Monday, December 5, 2011

Massacring Your Darlings

The keyboard is covered in blood. My desk is awash in the stuff. And don't even ask about the floor.

And for this, I blame my son.

He came down with a cold on Friday and spent much of the weekend in bed, requiring me to stay home with him while the wife and daughter went to the movies on Saturday and again on Sunday when they drove down to the in-laws for lunch.

What did this mean for me? It meant I had a ton of time to work on the manuscript. Yippee!  (Admit it, you thought this was going to be depressing story, didn't you? By the way, my son is feeling much better today, thank you very much. A win-win situation all around.)

So what was all that about a bloody keyboard, you ask? Well, a recent count of pages revealed that, although I still have several more chapters to write, my book on Hogwarts is currently going to top 700 pages. Now perhaps J.K. Rowling might be able to get away with that, but I can't, so I'm looking for places to condense. I've already reduced the manuscript's length by combining scenes and merging characters, but it's still not enough. So I spent most of the weekend cutting out huge chunks of the story.

I've been told that to be a successful writer, you need to be able to "kill your darlings." But when you lop off this many darlings in such a short period of time, it's more like a massacre. Makes me feel a little like a serial killer, if you know what I mean. I'm sure it will make the book better in the long run, but as most of you know, it's still hard to do.

What about you guys? How do you deal with it?


  1. I put all my casualties in a folder so I can read them whenever I want. :)

  2. That's right. I should have mentioned that my darlings are all still around in another file. I can't throw anything away completely.

  3. I was going to say the same thing Cassie said! My first manuscript topped out at 133,000 words. WAY too long for a YA book.

    I chopped and clipped and killed and got it down to a trim 95,000. Still kind of on the long end. Basically I just took out chapters that had to do with character building but didn't drive the plot forward any.

    They are all saved in a folder. I figure if they're not used in that manuscript, I might use them in another. :)

  4. I have the opposite problems, all my stories seem too short. Perhaps you can lend me some words :-)

    Glad your son is feeling better.

  5. Just try to think about how this will better your story, and chop away...

    that sounds bad, but hopefully it will help.

  6. I wouldn't murder the darlings. Put them in the freezer for a cold day when you want some tasty stuff for a casserole. So you missed an in-law fest. Nice tactics.

  7. Kelley, I just roughly calculated the number of words I'll have at 700 pages and it works out to about 180,000! Man do I have some cutting to do!

    Emma, I'm wondering if I can bribe my son to get sick again next week.