Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Love The Scene, But Love The Book More

Most writers are familiar with the phrase, "Kill your darlings". I just killed one of mine, and there's blood all over my computer screen.

Ha! Made you cringe, didn't it? LOL

Before anybody calls the police, I'm talking about "literary darlings", which in this instance, was an entire scene that I'd worked on for days. I LOVED this scene - it had some affectionate reminiscing on my main character's part, introduced a new character and added some local flavor, and the dialogue was fantastic, if I do say so myself. :-) But last night, I decided to do a total read-thru of the novel so far, and you know what? The scene didn't work. It was a beautiful in a stand-alone kind of way, but it did absolutely nothing to move the story forward. The new character was unnecessary, and so was the reminiscing. In fact, the scene slowed the pacing of the overall novel, which led me to break out the figurative red pen and KILL IT.

You could say that today's blog post was a memorium of sorts. "Alas, poor scene, I loved you well." (yes, I know it's a misquote, but it's how I feel... *sob*)

The inability to kill your darlings has killed many a writer's career, in my humble opinion. We get so attached to the words we put on paper that we'll do anything to keep them; a tweak here, a move there, use this bit of dialogue somewhere else... when really, a clean break would be best for all concerned. We justify keeping it, thinking of all the time and effort that went into creating it in the first place, and not wanting to waste our prose or our time. But a good book is worth the time, and perfect prose may not always be perfect in the bigger sense - the BOOK is what's important, not the scene.

It's a tough lesson to learn, but liberating in its own way.

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