Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kill all your darlings

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taking inspiration from Unstranger’s advice below, I quote from an interview with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, David McCullough:

Writing is thinking. That is what it is. And that’s why it’s so damn hard. Writing forces you to think, to bear down on the subject, makes you think as nothing else does. It’s why writing ought to be stressed far more in schools. It’s a way of working out problems, working out thoughts, and arriving at insights, conclusions, revelations, that you never could have obtained otherwise. That’s really the reward of it.

Don’t strive for literary effect. Don’t write what you think as writing. Say it so it’s clear. Say it so it’s to the point. Don’t give away everything up front. Be very careful about those lines you think are such raging moments of high artistic achievement on your part. You know Faulkner’s old line: “Kill all your darlings.”

Remember, your reader is as intelligent as you are, and is probably a step or two ahead of you. They’re getting it.

Go back when you’re finished and cut out all the lumber; cut out all the extraneous things. Obviously, look carefully at al those adverbs and see if you really need them. I cut and cut and condense again and again.

(From Conversation with David McCullough by Ronald Kovach, The Writer’s Handbook 2003, originally published in the Writer Magazine)


Anonymous said...

I haven't read that but it is good advice.

I read quite a bit and wordy stuff loses me easily.

muffled solitude © 2007-2021. Design by Pocket | Distributed by Blogger Blog Templates