Murder Your Darlings

A lot of people are incredibly keen to always tell you how to write. There are myriad rules and codes and guidelines that all writers are supposed to follow. In this golden age of computers and word processors, it has become easier than ever to murder our darlings over and over again.

“Adverbs are the devil’s work!”

“Cut all unnecessary words!”

“Never say suddenly!”

“Only ever say said when someone has said something.”

But the classic works of literature are full of all those things. Did a raven not tap ‘suddenly’ at the chamber door?

And how exactly does one classify an “unnecessary” word? I get the feeling some editors today would like to see Mervyn Peake’s masterpiece, Gormenghast, stripped of its glorious, lyrical prose in favour of something more like this:


The abridged version for modern audiences (spoiler warning).

Damn, this castle is freakin huge!
Steerpike, you’re a dick!
Wait, are we in the future?

The end.

Murder your darlings, perhaps, but don’t commit genocide just because of some so-called “rules” you got from a stranger on the internet.




2 responses to “Murder Your Darlings

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