I recently came upon a conflict in my novel between the writer and the story. The story wanted to get rid of an extraneous bit of narrative that was no more than political editorial. The writer saw the soundness of this in the first part, but the second part made him want to put it back in, because it led to a lovely bit of writing with perfect transition and information dump. This caused great turmoil in the writer's mind, as he didn't want to lose this bit of dialogue, but he also didn't want to inflate his already obese story. He tried to think of ways to replace it, to band-aid it, but the wound festered. The simple fact was, the wound needed to be sutured, and the lovely bit of writing removed.
The writer justified this by saying "It hardly matters, I'm probably going to be reinflating that scene anyway to explain a bunch of things the reader won't 'get'". But the moral of the story is you must kill your darlings. You must ask yourself the hard question: does this bit of writing advance the plot? If it does not, it must go. Better to cut than to fix. By fixing, you likely introduce more problems, like bugfixing Windows. It's not a matter of killing your darlings. You must not think it a matter of assassination - finding that one darling that's hard to get rid of, sneaking in the middle of the knife, and plunging a knife between its shoulder blades. You must enact darling genocide. Kill them all and let god sort em out. The more that die, the better off you are.
Labels: revising, writing, writing advice