Rewrite Chronicles V - Kill. Your. Darlings.


During my recent drafting phase, I didn't merely kill my darlings. I DESTROYED everything that used to be half my second act and the entirety of my third act... so, today we're gonna talk about killing your darlings. And I don't mean getting rid of characters. Okay, I don't only mean deleting characters. I'm also talking about destroying certain scenes and yeah, for me, it became a chain of deletion that eradicated a hefty chunk of my novel... a 20,000 word chunk. It was very, very daunting. I went from 70k to 50k.

The new draft reached 64k upon completion. I lost a lot of stuff. I cut out characters I considered essential. I deleted scenes I absolutely adored. However, the novel is closer to what I want it to be now.

Killing your darlings isn't easy. You may feel a lot of reluctance because of how much work it will entail. And getting rid of scenes you love suuuuuuuuuucks. And getting rid of characters feels weird, until you realise you can further develop the ones you're keeping.

Rewriting is a lot of hard work, but if it's going to make your story tighter, if it's going to strengthen your core theme or further develop the characters you do keep, kill them all. Every last one. Characters? Gone. Great scenes? Annihilate them. For me, cutting out characters (I lost three... or was it four?) and changing where the action took place really helped focus the story and my main character's development. And when I honed in on the theme, I instantly saw how much I could get rid of without actually losing any of the story's momentum. That's usually a clear sign you need to kill your darlings. If an entire scene can come out without changing the story's flow, get it out. Or, if you're like me and realise you're losing track of things in all the stuff you're clinging onto but don't need, get rid of it and write new scenes that are better.

How do you feel about killing your darlings? Do you embrace the slaughter, or do you dodge it until you can dodge no more?


  1. Oooh, new blog theme is looking very swish! Sorry I was late commenting, been having a few weird internet outages.

    I tend to go overboard with killing my darlings and have to revive them from the dead later. I need to temper my bloodlust....

    1. Cheers! Felt like it was time for an update ^_^

      Hahah, I do keep old versions in case I do the same, but right now the great Darling Slaughter of 2017 feels pretty damn good ;)


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