Monday, June 10, 2013

Kill your darlings: the end of the Endpaper Mitts

On the Tuesday after a long weekend during which I watched the entire first season of Game of Thrones (oh to be the person with the contract to supply the fake blood for that show!) it feels incredibly appropriate to open the week by killing my darlings. Kill your darlings, I have recently discovered, is a term used to describe a particular strategy for writing prose which is based on the premise that if you really really like bits of your writing then you can't be objective about them and, if you can't objectively judge them, you can never be sure if they are any good therefore they must die (is it just me or does the language seem a little overly dramatic for a series of letters on a page? It's just writing, really.) The Thesis Whisperer even detailed ways to apply this technique to a thesis.

Now I think that deleting something just because you like it is actually a pretty stupid strategy but I understand the basic idea behind the concept. It can take a bit of courage to face that just because you really like a piece of writing - even a piece of writing that contains a truly excellent pun or alliterative phrase - doesn't necessarily mean it's any good. And, to stretch the metaphor a bit further, just because you've working on a knitting project for a while and you become attached to it, even if the knitted fabric is really really nice, doesn't mean it's going to work.

So this morning, I took a long hard look at a project that I have been suspecting for a while was not going to work...

..faced up to the fact it was coming out much much bigger than it should have been...

..and murdered my darlings.

Looks like my sister is going to have to wait a little bit longer for her nice warm pair of mitts.


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