September, 2020

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Kill Your Darlings (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

(If you’re new to the IWSG and looking for additional information and/or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link…)

This month’s awesome co-hosts are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise-Fundy Blue.

This month’s (optional) question asks, “If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?”

But I’m going to skip the question to instead ramble on about…well, killing our darlings. Or, you know, killing my darlings anyway. You can kill your own darlings.

This year is, strangely, the first year in…well, ever, that I’ve even come close to following the writing schedule I set for myself at the beginning of the year. Meaning, during which months I would work on what WIPs and when those WIPs would be finished and so on and so forth. It’s loosely sketched out in January and traditionally has fallen apart by March. It is then endlessly revised throughout the rest of the year to reflect my actual progress (or lack thereof…) on each project.

But this year I haven’t had to revise that much (and even managed to publish a book), which means that over the next two months, my main writing focus will be on finishing the first draft of Full Circle (aka, Book Three in my fantasy series).

What I have had to revise, however, is my confidence in my ability to actually do this. For a while, it seemed as though I was getting closer to the end, but now I’m kind of…stuck toward the end of the second act. And the more time I spend staring at my computer monitor and/or storyboard, the more I fear I may have to do the unthinkable…

Kill my darlings.

I do assume that anyone reading this post is familiar with this concept, but in the event that it’s new to you, killing your darlings is when writers cut things they love from their manuscripts. It could be a beloved character, a plot line, a snarky dialogue exchange, some quirk you bestowed upon a character that’s now causing more problems than it’s worth, whatever. It’s stuff that we, as writers, love and cling to and try everything we can think of to make it work in our WIPs because we don’t want to get rid of it.

In my case, it’s most often dialogue (you know it’s not killing characters. I love to kill characters.). I love writing dialogue and will occasionally (translation: always) get carried away when writing it. Then it occasionally (translation: always) takes me a few rounds of revisions to accept the fact that maybe—just maybe—my characters don’t need to have a five-paged conversation about goats when goats serve absolutely no purpose in the story whatsoever.

(Side note: some of you know why I’m mentioning goats here, and to those of you I say…THAT STUPID CONVERSATION IS STILL IN THIS STUPID WIP.)

But until I reach/accept that realization, I will copy and paste that conversation (Other conversations. Not the goat conversation. That stupid conversation is apparently here to stay.) in every damn scene I can, trying to find the place where it fits. Even if it doesn’t fit anywhere.

Which is, sadly, what I think is happening here.

I don’t think I’m going to make it to the revision phase. This time, I think those darlings are going to have to go before the revision phase because I’m just not getting anywhere.

Despite all my plotting, this WIP has taken a few turns that has made some storylines obsolete. It happens, and I know it’s going to happen, but I guess I am just stubborn enough to think I can out-stubborn my characters (ha.) and that they will relent and just do what I want how I want and say what I want while doing it.

(Spoiler alert: they won’t.)

So that’s where I’m at right now. Torn between wanting to achieve a goal and wanting to cling to the last remnants of gone-but-not-forgotten storylines.

Which will win?

Thanks for stopping by today. I’ll try to do better the next time.

Stay safe out there.