“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—wholeheartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.” ~ Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch
I wouldn’t be senseless enough to contradict the enlightened Señor Quiller-Couch, particularly when I know that I tend to overpopulate my tales with beloved (and often bloodthirsty) darlings. However, if I murdered all my darlings, my stories would be left looking like someone else’s graveyard. And I don’t know about you, but I rather play with my own bones.
So… instead of slaughtering all my darlings, I often do some transplanting and relocating during the editing process. There still is some blood and guts (sorry slow plant magic from “If this Woods Could Kill,” you were just a bit too ridiculous), but most of my darlings will just claim a new home or shape.
I have a handful of darling motifs that appear in most of my stories: magic, witchery, strong female leads, respect for all living things, the stench of social injustice, survival of the wittiest, uncannily powerful plants set in the middle of each plot… *“plot,” get it? Yes, I’m a dork*
In case you haven’t noticed all the greenery in my tales, here is some proof:
• “Wishing upon Earth and Bones,” an AlmaMia Cienfuegos story – “…whispering encouragement chants to the leaves of the rosemary plant that had marked the center of the Cienfuegos’ garden for more than one hundred years.”
• Pre-Chaos– “His face, neck, and arms were tattooed with black leaves. His eyes were witch-white with no pupils […his] legs ended in two thick vines rooted next to [her] tree.”
• Of Death and Blooms – Jonquil, Cedrus, Althea, Yvonne, Ash, Wisteria, Marguerite, Daphne… and a blooming title, which describes a world half-ruled of herb magic.
I could give you more examples, but I don’t want to inspire you to beat me bloody with a branch of my own creation. By the way, anyone who thinks that even one of the leafy examples above will disappear from their stories will find himself or herself highly disappointed. Those darlings grow at the root of their plots, and their worlds will certainly wither if they are cut down. But there will be some serious pruning in Pre-Chaos.
I won’t say what will be trimmed, so that you won’t miss it. I’ll just let go of some of the green, and focus on the city’s Mythica Stones. Actually—my gods, will I ever be able to keep a secret!—if you read my future fiction, you won’t miss a thing. What I’m removing from Pre-Chaos will be transplanted to Of Death and Blooms. And knowing me, I’ll tell you all about it when I do ;-)
How do you deal with your “darlings,” my Wicked Luvs?