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The Hard Literary Goodbye

Edited Out Favorite Chapter, Sitting Shiva

Writing teachers, editors, and authors are familiar with the expression "killing your darlings." This refers to the hard work of editing out a favorite character, scene, chapter, or entire plot lines.

It's hard!

The best characters are the ones who talk to you, invade your waking and sometimes sleeping moments, and beg you to tell their stories. For non writers that may sound creepy.

In the process of writing, rewriting, lobotomizing, and screaming at my current WIP, I've developed a cast of characters whom I love. I know their back stories, researched their hobbies and professions, and in the case of the beloved chapter I just axed, I visited the very step that he walked.

I spent weeks on this chapter. My fingers flying across the keyboard polishing sentences, editing emotions, and building tension. This one chapter made me love the character whose POV the story flowed. This chapter helps tie up the conclusion of the book.

But - ugh - as the story has evolved, as I've evolved as a writer, it had to go. I didn't do a hard, gone forever delete. Merely a soft, copy, cut, and paste to a new document in the dead chapter folder. This chapter will not be alone. But this chapter, this character, was/is different. This character and his story is one of my darlings. I hope that the sacrifice will strengthen the entire story.

If I've learned anything in the past two years of this WIP, it's that writing fiction is hard for reasons that I never expected. The emotions you funnel into a story sometimes seep out at the other end.

I'm not completely ready to let go of it either. I hope that as I repair the story line that at least parts of the intense research can be saved. If not perhaps it's the genesis of another WIP.



Sharon J. Wishnow -
Entrepreneur, Speaker & Author
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