Skip to main content

Kill Your Darlings (and other terrifying advice)

Hi Writers,
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?

Keep Writing,


Samantha Vérant: On Romance and Recipes

Author Samantha Vérant discusses how her writing process changed while writing her new contemporary romance novel, The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 633

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a warm up poem.

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Every so often writers ask if they should pitch different to agents vs. editors. This post answers that question and provides some extra help on how to successfully pitch both.

Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, feature an urban legend in your story.

Grose, 12:6

Jessica Grose: On the Unsustainability of Parenting

Opinion writer and author Jessica Grose discusses the complicated subject of modern motherhood in her new nonfiction book, Screaming on the Inside.

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Award-winning novelist Elizabeth Shick discusses the complete rewrite she devoted to her debut novel, The Golden Land.

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

Author and athlete Henriette Lazaridis shares six tips and habits that writers can learn from athletes.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Last Chance to Nominate Your Favorite Writing Websites, Our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce the deadline to nominate your favorite writing websites, our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and more!

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

From having reverence for the original to making it your own, author Nikki Payne shares four tips for writing a modern retelling.