Nine Dead Darlings

kill-your-darlings

It was William Faulkner who first said “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” He may have actually been referring to his liver, (there is debate,) but this advice of Bill’s is generally construed as a writer’s obligation to edit out/delete phrasing and description, that although dear to them, does not serve the story written.

I kill my darlings all the time. Like, Every. Fucking. Day. And because I kill (delete) them … you can’t read them. However, some of these darlings do sound rather good, so I thought I’d post ‘em up on my blog for your perusal – along with the reason I deleted them.

1: “Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck,” she said, without much conviction. “Fuck.”

I thought this too alliterative.

2: “What’s up?”

Vague.

3: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

Plagiarism.

4: “It was the pretty goodest of times, and the somewhat, more or less, baddest of times: Truly it was neither this nor that, nor here nor there.

Derivative, and MS Word’s spellchecker had multiple issues. This might be my second favorite darling though – at least tied with #7.

5: “But roses are red, and violets are blue!”

The use of italics and an exclamation point in the same sentence are excessive and leading. I was also convinced that no one would note the reference to poetics because no one reads poetry. The source materiel is too obscure.

6: “So I said ‘Don’t worry Peter, it’s perfectly normal to have those dreams and besides, it’s not like she’s our real sister’”

I had written this for some Brady Bunch fan fic and truth be told – I totally creeped myself out. And then there are italics again. (Note: If I could think up a decent pseudonym for myself I’d have sold this. Still have the original draft.)

7: “’There is no such thing as editorial genius. No. Such. Thing.’ He said this simply and truthfully, and everyone nodded.”

I actually have never deleted this phrase – and it’s in every story I ever wrote. But it never makes it in.

8: “Where’s the can, man, I’ve got a turtle-head poking out!”

Scatological.

9: “So the boys got to drinking, and accidentally killed the asshole-neighbor’s dog, and that was that”

Synopsis – it basically summarizes many of my stories. Summary is bad.

So there you go – those phrases are phrases you have never had to  read in any of my published material because I did my duty by Faulkner’s dictum and killed those darlings. I’m not actually a huge Faulkner fan, but rules are rules and it is not my lot to make new ones up, but to abide by those already written.

Basically, I have kept the blog alive until further publication news arrives and I can beg y’all to go read my chapbook and then, later in the year, a short-story collection.

Stay cool compadres, and don’t go killing any of your own darlings. I have done this so that you won’t have to!

Steve

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