January 27, 2010

You Are Dead to Me

My Darling*,

It pains me to tell you this. I don't want to—really, I don't. Alas, I've been plotting your demise. I admit, I had trouble imagining life without you as I reveled in your magnificence. You were virile and sexy, intelligent and witty—like you jumped right out of a Conroy novel—in the beginning. Indeed, you exhibited a passion that left me reeling. I adored everything about you, even your spelling.

While I was blind, you were immune to conflict. Every tweak I gave you was for naught. When I finally took a step back and critiqued you constructively, I asked myself, are you really necessary to me? Are you still relevant? Are you simply cluttering things up? What part did my ego play?

When others gasped (reading you far better than I), I knew it was time to drop you like a hot potato—so cliché. I must make sacrifices, darling. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one—so said Mr. Spock once. Besides, you are not tight. And I like tight. Everybody likes tight.

Oh, I could keep you around, try to modify your behavior, juxtapose your more salient points, or even attempt to resurrect you to some epic glory. But my trust in you would be misplaced. My darling, your entire life was scripted. Now I see your flat and flaccid impotence for what it is—you've made me look like I don't know what the hell I'm doing. And I can quit you.

From my point of view, all words are important. Except yours. Repetitive and passive, you lack the elements of style. You are hyperbole to the short-and-snappiness I long for. When I delete you for good, you'll leave a space. But only a small one. As a writer—as your creator—I must slice you and dice you, bury you in my garden, and forget about you. I'm going to make a scene, I swear it. With the proper perspective, I'll transition and move on. Because, succinctly, you are dead to me now.

This entire post, filled with darlings, will self-destruct . . . eventually.

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* All good writers must do this little thing known as "killing your darlings." How hard is it to delete words, sentences, paragraphs, and even entire chapters when you've put so much time into them and they seem perfect, so darling? Believe me, it's HARD! Sometimes later revisions change everything, and going back and deleting (or killing off) what no longer works is a must to maintain the integrity of your story and the writing. So this was my impassioned kiss-off to my beloved darlings. Curiously, it's made its own point.
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39 comments:

Everyday Goddess said...

I am proud of you!

Alix said...

Have you tried Cialis?

only a movie said...

Awesome. Wait, are you quitting blogging?

rxBambi said...

I'm not exactly sure what this is about. I think it's a novel you're writing. Either that or you're deleting books from your kindle. You are definitely not quitting blogging. Do you hear me dammit?

daisyfae said...

the clean slate. a brand new day. blank page... sometimes terrifying, sometimes exhilarating. you will learn from the dead one... and it will be better. onwards, sister...

Eva Gallant said...

I'm confused!

Not The Rockefellers said...

Rage on girl, and throw it in the fire!

Peace ~ Rene

Linda in New Mexico said...

OMG Becky did you see the size of that question mark? WTH are you talking about oh great one?

Kristina P. said...

Yeah, I have no idea what's going on either.

ellen abbott said...

I thought you were giving up your mop for a swiffer.

TechnoBabe said...

Have you read Stephen King's book "On Writing"? He teaches so much in this book and that is something he says. Also "The Writer's Art" by James J Kilpatrick.

phd in yogurtry said...

Better to have written and lost then never to have written at all.

injaynesworld said...

"Killing your darlings" is so hard. I find it somewhat easier when I put a piece away for a day or so -- the longer, the better. I'm not so in love with every phrase and the weak ones show themselves more easily. Then there are other times when you just have to slash and burn -- and run for the tequila!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Geez. You're scaring me.

Does take guts to part with our words. Or as they say "Writers cannot fall in love with their words" or something like that. Cut, cut, cut. Some keep them for a later date. Mine just head off, somewhere.

Now, might this be a metaphor?

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

Are you talking in reference to editing? I sure hope so and not quitting blogging.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

The key to great writing is great editing, which means hard choices...killing your darlings is a great way to put it!

Tgoette said...

It's good to kill your darlings. That's what the voices in my head tell me to do. It's either them or me, right?

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

It will all be better after you have some chocolate....or wine...your choice.

Fragrant Liar said...

Hell no! I'm not quitting blogging. Just slicing and dicing up beloved pieces of my novel to make it better. However, the process sucks donkey balls.

Secretia said...

Please don't leave us.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

I had an epiphany about writing a while back. All those bits that seem so perfect and wonderful to me... those are almost always the bits that need to be deleted. On rereading, they always seem to be the self-indulgent bits or the irrelevant bits.

So out they go!

But I should probably keep a Word document somewhere with all my beloved, deleted sentences in it!

Danica said...

Confused, but hugs!

Ginger@When Ginger snaps... said...

As they say, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

I've found that a 2 sentence blog post will always get more comments than a thoughtfully written page of 2000 words.

Life is so unfair.

DebraLSchubert said...

Love this! I do think it's hilarious that your non-writing readers were totally lost. I loved it and laughed - amazing how "in sync" our topics are!!! Well done. ;-)

mac said...

You know, should anything bad happen, we now have proof of intent?

Gaston Studio said...

Feel your pain. Suggest you just save those little darlings for the next big one; they just might fit.

Red Shoes said...

I have a group of people who are dead to me... just sayin'...

~shoes~

CaJoh said...

Ah there's a book in itself… the one that was killed off.

Sounds like you're a writer and have to do some final edits. I've never edited any thing of great length, so I don't know what it's like but I can only imagine.

The best of skill on your edits,

steppinthru said...

Purging! I call it purging! and it's perfectly okay to go off on a T*A*N*G*E*N*T.......

Anna said...

Well done! You have come so much further than I have... ..but I'll get there eventually...

Anna
x

Brian Miller said...

slice and dice until you get it right. save the cuts though for the expanded second edition. smiles.

congrats on the goddess award!

Jess of All Trades said...

Bahahahahha... At least you were kind enough to write a letter explaining. I actually had to slice a character/love interest from my Work in progress,to replace him with someone more interesting...but I just kind of did it :D

He'll be reincarnated in a more suitable role. I like to think of characters, sentences and ideas as sitting around in a casting room. Some of them make it, some don't..

Thanks for this humorous take :D

diane said...

Wow, that was such a cool femme-fatale letter.
May I humbly suggest something? How about you keep a little book just for quips and darlings? xo

powdergirl said...

"Perhaps..." she began with a hint of mystery subtly defined within the dulcet tones of her voice, "perhaps we'll meet again on a night such as this when the moon collides with the stars and the heady scent of honeysuckle sweetens the dewy hours of predawn blah blah blah blah ...

Sorry, I just really love a good run-on sentence.

You can go ahead and kill that darlin' for me.

Janine@Shelf Life said...

I'm a cutter, actually - no not that kind.

I like to cut things out of my stories because I can go on and on - so usually the result is so much better. In my writing group people would ask me to do the dirty work for them - I was the "executioner" so to speak!

Madame DeFarge said...

Go for it! Treat words like men, use only ones you like, why use many why a long one will do, wonder why there's still some you'll never understand and never borrow them from someone else.

tattytiara said...

It was hard to learn to kill my darlings. Then I got good at it. Now I almost delight in it. Sometimes I think I prefer editing to writing, but then sometimes I think my brain was installed backwards too.

She Writes said...

So true. Not always as easily done as we wish! A little something in us dies too sometimes :).

Pat said...

Is writing tight like packing? Pack what you think you'll need for vacation, then take 1/2 the stuff out and that's what you actually need? LOL!

I remember simple things from writing class like "he nodded his head." Delete "his head". Should be "He nodded." It's understood that he used his head. What else would he nod with? LOL!