|Image by Henry Söderlund, via Flickr|
1. How do you determine what might be a “darling” - either in your own work or a client’s work? What clues do you pick up?
2. What differentiates a “darling” from a valuable plot thread?
3. Are darlings always evil? Do they destroy a book if they are allowed to live?
4. Have you ever killed a darling and then regretted it?
5. Have you ever relocated a darling to another book where it forms a genuine piece of the plot?
As an editor I am much less emotional about cutting the fluff. Again, if a character or scene doesn’t serve a useful purpose in moving the story forward, it needs to go. I’ve had a number of intense discussions with writers who did not share my point of view, but in many cases they agreed after pondering the matter. One in particular insisted on keeping her story “as is”, and I wonder how she’s faring with her sales.
3. They are not inherently evil, but if they don’t serve the plot in some way, they slow the flow.
4. I can’t say I've ever cut a darling that I regretted, but I have cut a darling or two I loved. The story was the stronger for it.
5. I have not relocated a darling, but I do believe in keeping a file with all the cuttings that could be repurposed later. A friend cut a character from a story and he ended up with his own.
How about you, dear readers? How do you determine if something has darling-status? How would you answer the questions I posed above? Curious editors want to know.