kill my little darlings? *gulp*

Ruthless.

That’s what you have to be, when it’s time to renovate your draft. And that means you have to kill your little darlings.

NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Oh, yes. We all have those fabulous turns of phrase, magnificent descriptive paragraphs, pithy dialogue exchanges…that stop the story cold.

But–but–isn’t there a kinder, gentler way?

Okay, okay. There are three things you can try, Little Cricket.

1.DOES THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION BELONG SOMEWHERE ELSE?

Maybe that bon mot would flow better coming out of the mouth of another character. The description of your main character’s bathroom might work at the beginning of the chapter, rather than three paragraphs in. You may save your little darling with a simple adjustment to your pacing.

2.CAN THAT LITTLE GEM BE SHORTENED , FLIPPED, ACTIVATED?

The problem with your esteemed word-pet might be the language. Can you shorten it, flip it on its head, choose more active verbs? Is it your character’s voice? Is it consistent with your authorial voice?

3.THE POT OF GOLD

When all else fails, go to your Pot of Gold. This is a file where you keep all those beautiful things that don’t fit in your manuscripts, but are too fabulous to trash. Someday, you will find a place for them. You may end up writing an entire novel around a perfect paragraph you had to excise from a previous story–who knows? NOTHING IS EVERY WASTED.

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About Lisha Cauthen

Lisha Cauthen writes YA novels for guys that girls like to read too.

Posted on April 9, 2010, in writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Sheila Berenson

    Oh, lord, how this hurts. I’m thinking of making a wall of all those killed-off brilliant words. (PS Photo of that girl is perfect; just how we feel.)

  2. If you rip those beauties out quick, it doesn’t hurt as much.

  3. Sheila, what a great idea! I’d buy that wallpaper.

    Jenn, you are a liar, but a gorgeous one.

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