May 1st, May Day for the rest of the world. You know what that means, comrades…yes, it’s another edition of Insecure Writers’ Support Group. Viva El IWSG!
Wow, is it May 1st already? Sheesh, where has this year gone? I feel like I really haven’t accomplished much. My novel’s still in third draft status, that dreaded third draft status. But I think all of that is going to change.
I was reading through some forums on a writer’s group on Linkedin earlier this morning. One thread, entitled, “Do you ‘Murder your Darlings’?” caught my attention. The thread’s creator, Carolyn Egan, wrote the following regarding this:
“This famous quote sometimes attributed to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, reminds us to ruthlessly revise our writing, especially those flowery overwritten passages that can work against us by obscuring the meaning of our prose from our reader. Are you too in love with your ‘darlings’ to murder them?”
I’m familiar with this trope, the idea that your writing can get bogged down by the things you’re in love with, but in all honesty are really hurting your story’s progress. I wrote the following response to Carolyn’s question:
“I think of these ‘darlings’ like I think of being in relationships. Are these relationships ones you want to be in? If a relationship I’m in is on that’s filled with subplots and interesting minor characters, but nothing really concrete I can build something on, then it’s time to end the relationship. Sounds harsh, and there will be feelings hurt, but there’s nothing worse than sticking stubbornly to something that simply doesn’t work.”
Spoken like an asshole that’s broken a heart or two…
My novel, about a superhero in the midst of a midlife crisis, has a subplot regarding a corporation made up entirely of superheroes. Our protagonist was once part of this corporation, but he and the corporation have been on the outs for the longest time. Also adding to the strain in that relationship is the fact that his ex-wife is pretty high up in the corporation, and her loyalty throughout the story seems to be questioned.
And it’s dawned on me that this subplot just isn’t working anymore. Sad, because the idea of a corporation of superheroes is the genesis of my novel, an idea that began nearly two years ago during a free-form conversation my wife and I were having about nothing at all. Sort of like a cross between X-Men meets The Office.
The thing is, I like my main plot much more, the superhero in midlife crisis. It’s been near and dear to me for the better part of a year, and, honestly, that plot flows much more freely, without the weighty subplot. Like a girlfriend that’s beautiful but bad for me, I’ve decided to “kill” the subplot.
Of course, I can’t let certain things go. Eventually, I’d like to revisit the whole X-Men meets The Office story line, because it was funny when my wife and I riffed on it a couple of years ago, and I still think it’s funny. It’s even funnier when it’s allowed to stand alone.
But for now, my darling, I must let you go.