Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Killing My Darlings

I don't find myself as attached to particular words, sentences, or even stories as I once was. This helps when I'm faced with the undesirable task of cutting chunks of flesh from tales which just aren't "getting the job done".

I finished drafting three stories in the past week (2,700 words, 900 words, and 1,500 words), and each needs a fair bit of trimming. An older piece has also staggered from the grave, begging for a new coat of paint.

I'm going to prune a bit today, and then move on to my first round revisions for The Sons of Chaos and the Desert of the Dead.

And from that story which wouldn't stay dead:

Her stare rested on the blade, watching it glimmer as the sun caught its edge.

“Give me your hand,” he said.

She sniffled, but sucked in a deep breath, pushing out her chin in mock courage. “I ain’t too afraid of dying, mister. I buried two brothers already. Earl Ray was only two weeks old when the fever got him. Dean got kicked in the head by a horse at five.”

Watcher held the knife to her skin, but his eyes were locked with her face.

“Figure I’ll see them soon enough.”


Rabid Fox said...

Ooh, nice passage.

I've never been too attached to my darlings, but I've noticed I am a bit more vicious than I was a year ago. Just threw a few hundred words in the word chipper the other day on a story I'm revising. Got it down to a streamlined 2,300 now.

Tony said...

I tend to have long openings that most editors don't like, and I *do* have trouble cutting them a lot of time. usually because those first pages were the origin of the story I wrote.

But more and more I'm learning to kill them too.

Daniel W. Powell said...

Hi Aaron,

Man, been busy with school lately, but I dug the posts you put together in the last weeks. Lots of good stuff...

That snippet of "In Hollow Fields" is excellent. Such a nice set-up for the tale (reminds me of early King, with the creepy rural setting) that I had to pick up a copy!

Hope things are going well...

Aaron Polson said...

Thanks, Gef. The chipper is our friend.

Tony - You did a great job weaving the important bits into "Uprooted".

Daniel - Thanks! I hope you like The Bottom Feeders. It's my "early" work.

Cate Gardner said...

You had me at... The Sons of Chaos and the Desert of the Dead.

I'm getting much better at the hacking and chopping. Just need to figure out how to deal with the spatter.

Aaron Polson said...

I'm excited about the Desert of the Dead... not so much about the edits.


Milo James Fowler said...

I like what I see here.

Jarrett said...

I'm going to echo what a couple of others here have already said. First, nice passage. Want to read more. Second, I'm with Cate, love that title.

I have a tendency to not kill my darlings but just put them aside. I can't count the number of times that I've pulled something from a story only to later drop it into something else where it's a perfect fit.

Tyhitia Green said...

I was really attached to all of my darlings, then I realized they all couldn't last. So now, I even put down whole stories if I feel they don't work for me.

BTW, I love the excerpt and the titles.

Danielle Ferries said...

I remember years back when I first joined my crit group I would take along chapters where whole paragraphs would be lined through. Paragraphs I had agonised over and quite liked. It wasn't until later I agreed that they didn't need to be there, despite how much I liked them.

Katey said...

Aww, the edits are never as bad as we think they'll be, Aaron! It'll be fun. Come on! (Am I succeeding in being coaxing, here? Not that I have a vested interest in this story or anything. Just saying, it's going to kick ass.)

I find that I'm less and less attached to particular sentences these days too. And I like that. Feels like I'm doing it for someone else, not just for, you know, my own amusement.

That's never as much fun.

craighallam said...

Edits: the writer's bane.

I dont mind it so much anymore. I'm finding it easier to cut the slough from stories. It still takes me ages though and I have to admit, I always keep a copy of the original version. What can I say? I'm faithful to my old friends.

I'm intrigued about that story passage. Look forward to reading it!

Aaron Polson said...

Milo - I do too. I think.

Jarrett - I have a similar file but haven't updated it in over a year. I think some spring cleaning is due.

Tyhitia - Thanks!I have a sad file of "dead" stories.

Danielle - I find myself doing the same thing after years. I'll go back to a story I loved and realize it was lousy.

Katey - I hope so (on kicking ass). I actually like to revise; I just don't like starting.

Craig - I used to keep original versions, too, but then I realized I had a file filled with stories I'd never touch again. I still have that file...can't bring myself to deleting them.