The Utility of "Killing Our Darlings"

Discussion in 'Fiction Writing' started by fightrat, Mar 28, 2018.

  1. fightrat

    fightrat New Member

    I'm not talking about the movie based on the college life of beat poet Allan Ginsberg. Rather, I'm curious about the way people today approach this, for lack of a better term, editing technique.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Faulkner said "In writing, you must kill all your darlings." In other words, the things we love as writers don't necessarily give our readers the same nostalgia or profound feelings that we get when we read our own work. Hence, we remove those characters, settings, one-liners, and even paragraphs for the benefit of our audience.

    I'm curious to know how other writers feel about killing their darlings. Do you avoid it? Does it scare you? Or is it something that you do the second you realize you are getting too sentimental about something others would have a hard time relating to?

    Also, where does it fit in your writing process? Is it something you have beta readers help you with, or is it more private?
  2. Kittyfriend

    Kittyfriend New Member

    Kind of a late reply, sorry...

    I completely avoid doing it, at least in fiction. I'm not scared of the idea, I just think it's silly. When I'm writing, it's as much for my own enjoyment as that of any potential audience. If I avoid writing about the things I'm most passionate about, it'll be hard for me to enjoy my own work. What would that mean for the quality of the story? Nothing good, I'd say.

    Plus, in my experience, reading about stuff you don't care about isn't that bad if the author writes well.
  3. jamjam123

    jamjam123 New Member

    I highly disagree, to be honest. I think it makes a work feel much, much more personal when people don't remove details like that, and it helps me enjoy it much more, since I can feel all the passion behind it. I write, first and foremost, as a form of self-expression. It's for me, so whether anybody else enjoys it or not isn't really too much of a concern I have.
  4. amarena13

    amarena13 New Member

    Now here is my unpopular opinion: I quite agree with this. I understand that most writers (me included) write as a sort of outlet for feelings, creativity and imagination. Nevertheless, I also try my hardest at everything I attempt, and that usually means letting go of some of my favourite parts in a written text. It's sometimes because they really do not resonate with my readers as much as they do with me, but often they are just clutter which I cannot recognise as such because, well, it's my 'darling'.

    I feel as if this quote is often exaggerated for dramatic effect - you do not need to remove all your favourite parts, characters, one-liners. You do not need to kill off that character you love or destroy that place that reminds you of home. What you do need to do is be prepared to trim some sentimental parts off your text, even if you love them, and also be prepared to try recognising them as such.

    I take the 'kill your darlings' advice with a grain of salt. I see it less like George R.R. Martin's way of killing characters, and more like Hemingway's 'less is more' approach to his texts.
  5. hgenoso

    hgenoso Member

    I like the movie tbh, it shows greatly how loving can be deathly to both and it shows the begative sides of it. Point being borderline obsessive to the person you care about.

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