Murder Your Darlings: Dangerous Creativity Meets Rosemary’s Baby

Jun 03

It's A Flourish!

This was originally posted on MindTweaks, June 12, 2007.  But it’s  relevant to yesterday’s post, and I want you all to see it, so go on, Google… penalize me for duplicate content! I’ll take one for the team! Voila!

I’ve forgotten where I first ran across the  brilliant, dangerous advice to“Murder Your Darlings,” but I’m in good company, it seems.  A quick web-search shows that it’s been attributed to Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Twain, Wilde, and about a quadzillion other word-smith serial-killers.

The most likely source is Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who, in 1914 or so, quipped:

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate
a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it
— whole-heartedly —  and delete it before sending
your manuscript to press.  Murder your darlings.”

Your “darlings” are those brilliant strokes of your writer-ly wit. They’re the most astoundingly beautiful interplay of paint that ever appeared on your canvas, the best and brightest ideas that you as a Creative have ever had. Darlings are our indigo-children, the fruit of our labors, the idiot-savants we nurture and coddle and pet-pet-pet, the ones we keep under our pillow so we can admire their shine, even in the dark of night.

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