Tuesday, July 31, 2007

kill all your darlings

Is some very sound advice that appears in The Copy Book. While it is easier to be brutal with one’s copy for an ad or brochure (mostly because the axe – or should I say mouse - wielding art director is always pointing somewhere and saying ‘Your copy has to end there’ and that's that) I find it impossible to discard phrases, sentences and sometimes entire paragraphs from my short stories. Also how much advice should one listen to ? Should I be allowed to say ‘No, I like the way this has turned out and I’m not changing it’ at such a nascent stage of my writing or should I take on board all that I am told?

9 comments:

Raj said...

Depends on whether you want to pubish your stories in Indian Express or in your blog. If former, yes, you must go chop chop. Why not try different iterations on your blog first, where you can freely experiment? And then evolve your distinctive style of story writing?

30in2005 said...

Tough one. But depends what for. If you were publishing in a book and trusted someones opinion maybe you would consider letting them read and make suggestion of what to cut - sometimes you can be too close to your own story and not see the wood for the trees and a fresh eye almost always helps! Also people are sooooo opinionated!

Sujatha said...

When you are trying to establish yourself, the latter applies, methinks. It's better to have published pieces to point to and once you have a few under your belt, then you can afford to ignore "advice". Just need to make sure, that in the meantime, your inner compass is not skewered.

Whose advice are we talking about, by the way? The editor or someone who has no say in whether your story will be published or not?

Mumbaiwallah said...

I would say stick to your instinct,esp for fiction. If you are writing for someone else,then they have the liberty to tell you about guidelines, word count etc.

If not, don't bother :) Take a break from your work, walk away from it for a few days. If that still doesn't change things for you, then leave it the way it is.

And I agree with what Sujatha says - if it is an editor (or who you're writing for) who's telling you to kill all your darlings, you'd better do so. Anybody else's opinions are secondary to yours.

Works for me!

Falstaff said...

Since there's really no way of answering a question that abstract without venturing into platitudes, here goes: I'd say you should listen to all the advice you get, but only follow the advice of people who are able to convince you / make you see that they're right. This isn't just about personal integrity (cue "to thine own self be true" speeches) - unless you really understand why something doesn't work you're not likely to be able to fix it. Plus it's a neat selection mechanism - people who are able to provide feedback on your writing that's clear and convincing are people who know what they're talking about.

There's also, of course, the joy of second opinions.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Raj - somehow I find it harder and harder to blog these days... after the articles for papers and my routine few hours of writing I find myself too exhausted to blog... though the blog was started as a rough book of sorts to experiment and try things out. I should set aside more time for it.

30in2005 I'm quite happy to let others read my stories and give me feedback... I guess it's more of how much to trust my own gut instinct and listen to someone whose opinion I really respect but may not agree with... am I making any sense?

Sujatha, MW I was asking the question with regards to my fiction. I fully understand that publications and editors will whip out the scissors and have their evil way with my work :)

Falstaff it's true... I find it impossible to change something in a story when I don't agree with or can't really see what the problem is...

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