“Killing Your Darlings”

This morning I read an article about the 3 Signs You Should Give Up On Your Story by K.M. Weiland — 1) You’re losing focus.  2) You lack passion.  3) Your gut says stop.  I think there should be an asterisk at the end of that title that leads you to a footnote that reads *Temporarily, because I’m not sure I believe any story you’ve poured so much effort into should ever really be dead.

Obviously we started the story because we liked it or what’s the point?  If you’ve lost focus or passion, perhaps it’s time to just shelve the story for a little while or retrace your steps to remind yourself why you started the story in the first place.  (I recently wrote about how I was reminded why I started my latest screenplay based on a snippet from Elfen Lied, and it reinvigorated the idea for me.)  If your gut is telling you to quit, it may be your inner voice, the one that always knows, that something has gone amiss, but to me, that doesn’t mean the story is dead in the water.  Sometimes we struggle.  Sometimes we get lost.  Sometimes we get buried, but I have never felt relieved to let a story go.  I put it on the back burner for a little while and work on something else.

When I was about 15 I started a romantic period piece that I was too inexperienced to write.  I have had this story shelved for quite some time because I lacked the knowledge of how to write it.  What did I know about that life?  What did I know about life in general?  I had started reading romantic fiction and I think I was inspired and wanted to imitate those stories in some regard because the themes I was hinting at were well above my age/emotional level at that time.  It is a story I have always planned on returning to, I just needed the right mindset to write it.  Since those first few drafts, I have changed.  I’ve become older, wiser, and much better at research.  I love history and have studied it a great deal since I was 15, so much so that I actually have a fairly wide knowledge base about certain time periods.  Plus, as time goes by, you learn more about the world and the people in it.  Those are the ingredients to make you a better writer.  And I loved those characters.  They were my first “couple” and I think it’s time they were resurrected (in time…).

Maybe you need more life experience.  Maybe you need more research.  Maybe you need someone to bounce ideas around with.  I find that talking out the story will sometimes help put it in perspective because you’ll find the holes immediately when trying to tell it.  And the big thing I’ve learned as a writer is that our characters will speak to us.  Sometimes they are the ones to fix a problem.

I’d love some feedback on this one.  Have you ever had to put one of your beloveds to rest?

Wishing you all the best and a great weekend!


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