Kill Your Darlings is the first writing advice I ever got. I don’t where I read
or heard it, but it is my absolute favourite because it is so useful to me.
I have never seen this advice as “KILL YOUR CHARACTERS GODDAMIT!” and I don’t get why so many people take it this way. So many people I know interpret it as having to kill of as many characters as possible thoughout your book, or your book will suck.
To me it means critically looking through your story, trying to find the parts that are there simply because you want them to. This CAN mean a character that really serve no purpose other than that you like them, but it can also mean a scene or a part of the story that does not fit the rest.
For me it means going through characters, names, places, scenes, chapters, plot points and so on and see if they have any real purpose. If they do not, usually it is because I have been blinded by how much I love them. And so they simply must go.
One example that still makes me cringe, is one of my oldest characters. I named him Tenshi when I was 14-15 and deeply stuck in my “Anime-Lover” phase. Tenshi means Angel in Japanese, and boy does that make me cringe now. Not because of what it means or why I named him that in the first place, but because it is so obvious in the story that his name is out of place. It is simply there because I thought it was cool as a teenager. It stuck for so long (about ten years) because…I mean it was his name! It was emotional thinking that he should be called anything else.
Until I realised this was one of those darlings and it needed to die!
Needless to say, his name is changed now.
To make a long story short, personally if I look at my story and find “darlings” I either kill them, or do a Tim Gunn:
–MAKE IT WORK!
Urban Dictionary says it very well: here
And now, back to NaNoWriMo!