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This week Kelly and JJ embark on their series on troubleshooting writing craft issues. In this episode, they discuss the adage “Kill your darlings”: what it means, how to identify it, and how to fix it. Also, we’re apparently in the midst of the summer doldrums, so not a lot of reading or recommendations this week.
- Kill Your Darlings, and Some Trees by E. C. Myers
- Kill Your Darlings by Erin Bowman
- “Darlings” as we’ve defined it is anything the writer loves that does not contribute in any meaningful way to the novel.
- “Darlings” can be as macro as premise/storylines/characters or as micro as a pretty bit of prose you just like.
- “Darlings” can be categorized into three categories: Big Picture, Scene, Sentence.
- How to identify Big Picture darlings
- When you are working too hard to make an element fit (e.g. JJ having to sit down and engineer situations for a third “darling” character to fit in with the rest of the story)
- When you keep forgetting said element exists and have to keep going back to include it
- How to identify Scene darlings
- This usually shakes out in revision, but if a scene does not move the story forward plot-wise or character-wise, it should go.
- Ideally, all scenes should do both, and if possible, find ways to combine scenes so that they do both.
- How to identify Sentence darlings
- READ YOUR WORK ALOUD
- Reading your work aloud illuminates things about your manuscript that you wouldn’t otherwise notice: the length of your sentences, their rhythm, any repetition, etc. The other thing it illuminates is whether or not that pretty sentence you wrote actually makes sense.
What We’re Reading/Books Discussed
- Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery
- The Eye of Argon by Jim Theis
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
- Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
- Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
- Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
What We’re Working On
- Kelly is still working on her YA novel.
- JJ is working on book 2 and a ton of promotional stuff for Wintersong.
Off Menu Recommendations
That’s all for this week! Next week we’ll be talking about the opposite to Kill Your Darlings—how to EXPAND. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to sound off in the comments!