Tag Archives: kill your darlings

Poking my head above ground

It’s about 10:00 a.m. as I start this post. I just finished the draft of HMS Lanternfish. It’s one hell-of-a-lot bigger than I wanted it to be, but it’s all good stuff.

This is where I start contemplating the old phrase, “Kill your darlings.” It’s an important concept in fiction. Today isn’t the day for that. Today is the day to savor the moment and not dive into something I’m not ready for.

One of the things that occurs to me right now is that every stop the ship made in this adventure involves something important. Every stop does something to advance the story in one way or another. If I start eliminating chapters, characters, or scenes, the story will lose something. If I eliminate some of the monsters and such, it will change the world Lanternfish is set in.

Honestly, in science fiction or fantasy, 120K word volumes are common enough. I didn’t hit that watermark, but I’m not far off.

Only a few of you will know what I’m talking about here, but you can get it from context. If I eliminate Fēngbào, the bringer of storms, or the Omcrom, the story will lose something. Besides, I have a cool Lisa Burton poster on order that involves Lisa vs the Omcrom.

The critique and editing phases always tend to reduce words to a degree, so the count will go down in a small way.

I might eliminate some characters, but who? There are some that were barely used in this volume, but will have a bigger role to play in the final book.

This is why I’m not doing it today. If I send a chapter per week to my crit group, it will take weeks for them to see the end. I have some specific work to do after that, then I always read from start to finish one more time. At this pace, I’ll be lucky to have it out by August.

Somewhere in there, I need to finish The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, too. That ought to clear my head for the Lanternfish read. My hope now is to have Lanternfish out in time that it doesn’t interfere with releasing Mrs. Molony for the Halloween season.

I need to be content today. Show a bit of patience, then turn my attention to the critiques I received over the weekend. I also have a submission to mark up for a partner. Back to the regular grind, tomorrow.


Filed under Writing

Moving Away from the Outline

When I got out of the bathtub this morning, I caught a faint whiff of sandalwood. I knew immediately what it meant, and locked the bathroom door.

When I was presentable, I unplugged my iPhone, put it in my pocket and walked into the living room. “Hi Lorelei*. I know you’re here, where are you?”

She looked over the couch. She had on a big sweater and tight leggings. Today was all about showing the lower part of her figure off. Apparently, she bought a pair of those strange Uggs boots too. “Do whatever you have to, then we’ll talk,” she said.

I let the old pit bull in the yard, made his breakfast and my coffee. I’m pretty cramped for time in the mornings, and Lorelei and I never really got to talk.

Lorelei got in the truck and said, “I’ll ride part way with you this morning.”

Once I was pointed toward the office I asked, “What’s up?”

“It’s the desk,” she said. “You spent a lot of time writing about Patty’s old desk this weekend.”

“It’s really cool isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” she dragged the word out, ” I checked it out, it’s beautiful, but is it important? You give it a lot of page time.”

“It might be what writers call a ‘darling’. The common advice is to go back after you finish and kill your darlings.”

She said, “Right now, it certainly is. If you’re going to dedicate that many words to it, it has to be more important.”

“Are you telling me I can leave it, if it becomes more important?”

“Yes, but it has to be substantial. Doubt** tried to warn you about it, but you were too busy forging ahead.

“Well, you said to overcome Doubt–

“Don’t mince words. You know what I meant. Keep writing, but you have to make a decision eventually.”

“Patty found some evidence in it. Isn’t that good?”

“Sure, but she could have found it and moved on. You almost don’t have to describe the desk at all for that. Think about why it’s important to her. What symbolism can it represent. Maybe you can keep it.”

“What do you think I should do?” I asked. “You’ve never steered me wrong.”

“No you don’t, buster. I’m the inspiration department only. You have to think this crap up yourself. If it stays it needs a purpose. If it doesn’t, get rid of it.”

She leaned over and kissed my cheek, then disappeared. Yup, inspirational. Now what can I come up with for the damned desk, before it goes on imaginary Ebay.

* Lorelei is my Muse. She doesn’t always have the best timing.

** Doubt is a raven that Lorelei left me. She said he’s from Mt. Olympus.


Filed under Muse, Writing