Friday, June 29, 2007

Kill Your Darlings

Angela James had an interesting post over on Romancing the Blog yesterday about people who are unable to let go of their unpublished novels.

Because I'm a lazy slob, and because I think the realization I came to while reading that post are my new words to write by, I'm just going to repost the comment I left right here.

That old quote, “Kill your darlings,” is some of the best writing advice ever given. When we fall in love with our books, we lose sight of their flaws. I’ve noticed that the more I love a story I’m writing, the less likely I am to even like it a year later.

A couple years ago, I wrote a story that I adored. My critique group wasn’t so keen on it; nobody seemed to like it but me. I shelved it, ran across it a year later, and realized I had been so enthralled with my own ideas that I’d written an over-detailed, under-plotted, meandering mess.

I still like the world and the characters, though. One of these days, when I’ve sharpened my critical eye to a lethal edge, I’ll haul that story back onto my desktop and gut it like a sacrificial lamb.

I'm starting to think that you can either love writing, or you can love the things you write. If you love writing then you change, you grow, you hone your skills to better practice your craft. If you love what you write, you drag the same manuscript around for years wondering why nobody appreciates your baby the way you do.

So that's my new motto, right after "Kill your darlings," is "Love writing, not what you've written."