Following up on my previous post, the Ira Glass storytelling video, there were some interesting comments on the forum. I mentioned that I really took to what Glass had to say about killing much of your work so that the best can live. And this brought up the anxiety-inducing advice that all writers get early in their careers, “Murder your Darlings” aka “Kill your Darlings.”
I’ve heard this quote attitributed to everyone from Mark Twain to James Patrick Kelly—if anyone knows the correct source/attribution for this idiom, please share.
I still remember the shudder that went up my spine the first time I heard “Murder your Darlings” from an English professor (English professors love this quote).
And I’ve been pondering the meaning of it ever since. As a writer, of course, it seems cruel and harsh to cut out your loveliest well-turned phrases—your most eloquent lines. But I have to say, as an editor, I have no problem at all at seeing and cutting out other writers darlings.
So how do you feel about murdering your darlings? Do you subscribe to this timeless writing advice?