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Along with “write what you know,” writers are advised to “kill your darlings.” Essentially the advice is –  during the editing process, if you come across a particularly witty or beautiful passage in your writing; cut it. Pretty is not necessarily correct. I struggle with the idea that beautiful sentences are bad sentences but, I get the point. For example, in the chapter I am editing right now I came across a gorgeous image of my main character leaving footprints in a dust covered floor while rushing to open the door. It’s evocative of where she is in her personal journey and generally pretty. It also got cut. The story is standing on the stoop.

Interesting note on the origin of this adage: The phrase “kill your darlings” is attributed to William Faulkner who is reported to have said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Faulkner seems to have borrowed the concept from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch who wrote in his 1916 publication “On the Art of Writing,” “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it wholeheartedly and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”  

 

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