Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Killing Off Your Darlings

Another chapter in the books. Well, only one book. I'm really enjoying these snow days. I am really growing more and more impatient to write full time instead of just when I can find the time. I need to find a way to get paid for it, though, is the problem. I'll figure that part out eventually.

This one was hard. And so was the one I wrote a couple days ago. Not hard to write. The words came tumbling out almost faster than I could type them. Hard because they depicted horrific events. One ended the life of a character and another devastated two more. I have become attached to these characters to a degree that surprises me.  Think how you felt when you read what happened to Dumbledore. Now imagine how J. K. Rowling felt. She made him. He was even more real to her than he was to all of us readers. I'm in no way comparing myself to J. K. Rowling. It's just an example that most of my friends will readily understand.

I read an article in Writer's Digest about editing that talked about "killing your darlings." It's a phrase used to remind writers that, no matter how much we get attached to them, we have to be willing to cut superfluous words. That's not an easy task. But I've learned that it's just as hard, if not even harder, to say goodbye to my darlings of the human kind. And even the idea of putting them in harm's way is painful. These characters are real to me, no matter that they're fictional. First of all, they really aren't completely fictional. Each character I create is inspired in some way by one or more people I know and, in almost all cases, have elements of me in them. Second, they're just as real to me as they would be if they were flesh and blood because I know all about them. I know what they like and what makes them sad. I know where they were born and how they got that scar on their knee.

So killing my darlings, of all kinds, is really tough. But that's the price you pay if you want to be a writer. At least if you're not going to write books about fluffy bunnies and other happy woodland creatures. And I'm not.

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