“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”~~ Stephen King
How I love and loathe this man.
His book, "On Writing", is the definitive source for the best tips on writing. I think I'll reread it this week.
I was asked at an Oklahoma Library Conference Author's Panel if I had killed any darlings and what it was like.
The question threw me. Writing romance, I don't get that question a lot. But I did, in fact, kill a main character in one of my books.
And it hurt.
Readers invest in your writing. They've put in time, at the very least. And when a character dies, they grieve.
But for a writer? To create a character and have to kill him/her?
It's fucking devastating.
I'm not talking about the bad guy/obnoxious fuck/no love lost character. I'm talking about one that has made an impact in the book. I'm talking about a character who left footprints all over the scenes and in your and the readers' collective hearts.
It hurts like hell.
Because, to a writer, these characters are as alive as you and I. They live and breathe and love just as much as any other person we know. Killing them is nearly unbearable, but it's necessary sometimes to move the story forward.
When I first started writing, I blog-hopped quite a bit. I wanted to know what other writers saw and did and wrote. I remember there was a blog with Amy Knupp, Maya Banks, and Allison Brennan. I followed the blog when Allison got her first contract. I remember helping vote on the cover photo to use. So I couldn't wait to pick up her book.
She killed a character off about five pages in. I had only settled in to knowing who the players in the story were. And suddenly...BOOM. Gone. No more. Murdered.
I shut the book. I've never read anything else by her.
It was a thriller. I probably should have known better.
But the fact of the matter is, it took me completely out of the story, and I couldn't get back into it.
He seemed like a nice young man...alas and alack. That was several years ago. I've never forgotten.
I've also never forgotten all the characters that Mr. King has killed throughout the decades. There's a special place in my heart for each. Those characters that literally gave their all for friends/family/strangers. They mattered. All of them. So don't dismiss the advice.
Sometimes it's necessary to kill your darlings.
Just bring the tissue.