As writers, we’re very accustomed to two kinds of murder: the murder of characters, and the murder of amazing sentences and scenes that don’t advance the plot—aka “kill your darlings.”
“Kill your darlings” means that you need to put quality over sentimentality. We’ve all written brilliant sentences that wound up not really helping our story, or even actively hurting it. Even though it’s painful to contemplate, we know that they need to be cut for the good of the story.
So here’s what you do: You kill that darling stone-dead, and then you drag that body over to a new document and copy-paste it in.
I know what you’re thinking: Why are you encouraging me to hoard my rejected words? They were cut out of my wip for a reason.
They were, but I’ve got two reasons why you shouldn’t just erase those dead darlings forever.
You might be able to reuse them. Maybe you chopped a section out only to realize that it actually contributed a lot. Maybe you can find a new home for that incredible sentence that takes your breath away every time. Even if you can’t fit it into your current project, you might be able to use it for a sequel, or even a completely different story.
You worked so hard to write those! If you work hard on something, you don’t just throw it away without a second glance, especially if it’s good. Keep it. Stash it with all your other dead darlings and periodically re-read everything to remind yourself that yes, you really, really can write great stuff.
Here’s one particular darling that I was so sad to have to kill:
Winnie regarded the meat thoughtfully and then tossed it high over the lake. Three daemons leapt out of the water and latched onto the meat midair. They all fell into the water with a terrific splash. Winnie chuckled fondly. The chuckles crystallized midair and hung around her face in a small fog.
Rip, darling. I miss you so much. I think of you fondly. And, on those rough days when my inner critic has gotten its hands on a megaphone and is telling me that I can’t write, I look at you and know that yes, I can.
What have you been sad to cut out of your wip? Do you hang on to your chopped sentences?