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Kill Your Darlings: Staying On Topic During Writing.

Tips for writing

Date : 06/04/2021

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Uploaded by : Bethany
Uploaded on : 06/04/2021
Subject : Basic Skills

Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner s phrase, Kills your darlings , may seem a little brutal darlings are items that we hold dear. But the purpose of the idiom is to advise on delivering information in the most efficient way. When constructing a sentence, you may have a few ideas you want to try. You may want to use a cornucopia of adjectives to portray imagination. Yet often, too many words can muddle the message. This is the same for any writing, whether it be fact or fiction science or arts. The following passage is an example of flowery writing:

Clara walked briskly across the purple-headed mounds of the Yorkshire Moors, in her too-big leather boots that squelched as she trod in muddy green puddles. The old scruffy denim of her blue jeans was damp and sticking to her skin which made it very unpleasant, and the humid air temperature was dropping a little too much for her liking. Her cheeks were flushed red and rosy whilst her hands were frozen and numb, almost tingling, so it was safe to say that she was not very happy with Jack at the present moment.

The imagery attempts to conjure a story where poor Clara is uncomfortable, but the clunky wording makes it difficult to read. The darlings in this text are whimsical the mystery of the landscape, the visceral experience of Clara s discomfort. Yet the audience isn t permitted to explore their own imagery when the author signposts every idea. Here, it is easy for a reader to get bored, and they may only continue reading out of obligation. The following passage attempts to kill the darlings of Clara s story

Clara strode across the moors, the mounds purple-headed and the air crisp. Now, she had hot cheeks and cold hands. Resenting the dropping temperature, she was becoming very unhappy with Jack.

This may not be the most descri ptive or interesting of passages, but the message is clear. Removing unnecessary language provides clarity. The purpose of the text is not lost in a maze of adjectives and the reader focuses upon Clara s intent/physical discomfort/resentment of Jack rather than the setting. Although environment may contribute to storyline, competing priorities demand an active reader so it is often beneficial to kill your darlings and not overcomplicate writing.

This resource was uploaded by: Bethany

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