Don’t like murder? Try this instead

Murder your darlings

The famous words have been attributed to William Faulkner, Ginsberg, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and many others.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who wrote (or said) them, is the phrase good advice?

And when it comes to editing our stories do we need to be so brutal?


I suspect we do. No matter how brilliant that character/setting/scene/dialogue is, if it doesn’t add anything to the story, then drastic measures are needed.

I’ve been ruthless with characters and plots. I’ve decimated three complete novels. Chapters, plots, settings, symbols, dialogue and themes. All gone.

Not murdered though.


Kidnapped and relocated.




We make our best decisions when we’re relaxed. So when you know that chopping a beloved scene doesn’t mean a funeral, only a new postcode, you will find it easier to remove words that don’t belong.

Create a file (or notebook) for your darlings to relax in. Copy and paste them rather than just hitting the delete button.

And something wonderful happens. You become brave. Knowing that your darlings are safe and alive frees you to create, without the paralysing fear of loss.


If you are brave enough to say “Goodbye” –

Life will reward you with a new “Hello”.

– Paulo Coelho