Come to My New Blog!

If you followed a link here from a comment I made on somebody's google blog, I would love to have you visit my blog, but this is no longer it. While I may occasionally post things here again once in a long while, virtually all my content will be at from here on out. If you were curious enough to come this far, why not give me one more click?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Follow no rule off a cliff

That's what Linnea Sinclair always says. Actually, as I recall she says she got it from C.J. Cherryh.

I ran across this old blog entry today on the oft-repeated advice to "kill your darlings." Diana Peterfreund quotes Karen Hawkins, who recasts that advice as "Love the book, not the scene."

Now I've killed so many darlings in the last six months that I have a tag just for that. But those were things that needed to be cut. My protagonist playing a video game because I thought it might be fun to write about an old game I loved. Getting from point A to point B, because I'd done the research--I'd suffered for my art, and damnit, now it was your turn, dear reader. Scenes that weren't furthering the story--or that weren't furthering it enough to carry their weight in wordcount. The advice to cut things that are only in there because you wanted to put them there is good advice.

Love the book, not the scene.

I like it.

Love the story, not the phrase.

I have a tendency to write too long, so I'm always looking for things to cut. In Vanishing Act I resisted the temptation to take killing your darlings too far, mostly because I knew I needed to cut a lot more wordcount than I could by removing a phrase here and a phrase there. But in the past I've followed this advice off a cliff, and cut bits that weren't detracting from the story, that were actually good. I mean, come on, if writers cut out every turn of phrase they recognize as apt, poetic, clever, artistic, what have you, how does any great turn of phrase ever end up in a story?

Jesus, sometimes it feels like we need permission to use common sense.

No comments: