"Kill your darlings"


***** WARNING: Some very major Waiting for Spring spoilers follow. Read this prior to Chapter 34 at your own risk. *****

“Kill your darlings” is a literary term that refers to the process every writer goes through of weeding out brilliant or beautiful, but unnecessary, elements of a story so it can move along more smoothly. It is quite often a difficult, even painful, process, since it’s easy for an author to fall in love with his or her own writing. Unfortunately, it meant something different to me when I was writing Waiting for Spring. Along with those [seemingly] brilliant and beautiful, but unnecessary, passages that needed doing away with, I had to kill a different kind of darling: Rachel LaChance, Brian’s lost and abused sister.

If you’ve been following the book at Readers and Writers Blog, today’s the day you discovered that Tess’ assumption at the end of chapter 33 was correct; Rachel really is dead. And please believe me when I say that no one mourns her loss more than I do.

Rachel was doomed to meet a violent end the moment I brought her to life, a literal sacrificial lamb, as evidenced by her name (Rachel means “lamb or ewe”). Her death was a literary necessity. Because when an author has presented her readers with a major character (Brian) whose biggest fear is that something terrible will happen to the sister he has raised, and another major character (Tess) whose biggest fear is that something will happen to put her relationship with the other major character at risk…well, there’s only one thing for that author to do.

And yet when it came time for me to write Rachel’s death, I just couldn’t do it. I had grown to love Rachel too much to kill her off. She’d had such a hard life. She deserved a happy ending and I tried for weeks to figure out a way to give her one, I really did. But, in the end, the story has to take precedence over the fate of one character. Even a character you’ve grown to love. Especially a character you’ve grown to love…

So don’t hate me for killing my darling. Mourn with me instead.

————————————–

Also posted today at Readers and Writers Blog: Chapters 10 and 11 of Ann M. Pino’s Steal Tomorrow.

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About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

10 responses to “"Kill your darlings"

  • liza beth

    I don’t hate you but as Tess would say, right now – right now – I am very upset with you.

  • bunnygirl

    I can’t wait to get my internet restored and have time to read this. I’ve had to kill a few favorties myself and it’s always hard.

    I think it’s also why some of my characters don’t trust me. šŸ˜‰

  • hoosiertoo

    Hi! I’m not dead.

  • R.J. Keller

    Thanks for not hating me, Liza Beth. I’m glad you decided to brave a comment. Hope to hear more from you.

    BG…GREAT to see you today! Sorry your internet is still out at home, but SO relieved you’re okay! (BTW, my characters don’t trust me, either. Nor should they…)

    H2 old buddy! I’m glad you’re not dead. You must be relieved that you’re not a fictional character of mine…

  • Kit Courteney

    Ach, poo.

    I’ve been scrolling up from the bottom in an attempt to catch up on what I’ve missed over the last 2 weeks and saw your comment about Rachel before I saw your spoiler warning!

    Not gonna make THAT mistake again!

    Totally engrossed in your book. Loving every second of it. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

    *Attempting to forget what I just read… la la la la… wiping mind of all memories for the last 5 mins*

  • R.J. Keller

    Sorry KC. šŸ˜¦

    From now on I’ll post spoiler warnings at the bottom of my posts as well.

  • Kit Courteney

    Don’t do it on my account. Not many are as thick as me!

    I’ve learnt my lesson, oh yes, indeedy.

  • Jaden @ Screenwriting for Hollywood

    Yes, killing the darlings is a hugely important part of writing success. Holding onto writing that needs to go is like hoarders and their clutter — no good for anyone.

    I am so behind on all your great stuff. You are a writing machine.

  • Pro-what? « Ingenious Title To Appear Here Later

    […] It gave me an ostensibleĀ motive to give to Tim for killing Rachel. (See this post to learn why Rachel was always gonna die, regardless of how or […]

  • Arlen Lycan

    If you agree COlts are going to lose become a fan of FB page Colts Will Lose Super Bowl 2010!

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