Kill Your Darlings

Everything must be in service to a story, and if it isn’t, no matter how much we like what we said, we must have the courage to get rid of it. I’m not sure I always follow this rule, but it is a good one. Many writers have said this in various ways. 

The most famous quote is by Faulkner:  “Kill your darlings.”

Samuel Johnson said: “Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.”

Arthur Quiller-Couch in The Art of Writing wrote: “Whenever you feel the 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.“ 

Colette wrote: “Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”

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