Chapter 90 – Kill Your Darlings
by Leesa Dean
Short post this week cause I am BUSY!! Mostly doing rewrites, tightening, tweaking and finishing up the final few episodes of the Lele Show relaunch which has proved more daunting than I counted on. I’m preparing a ridiculous amount of material and there’s so much to organize, write and polish. But the one thing that stands out is: Kill your darlings.
What does that mean? It’s a phrase (possibly) coined by writer William Faulkner (“In writing, you must kill your darlings”) and, in general, known among a lot of writers, particularly screenwriters. It refers to throwing out jokes, lines, phrases, writing that you absolutely love love love but that don’t further the narrative. And that take away from it being tight and cohesive. Argh! It’s very tough to do. Especially when you’re writing comedy. And have to crank out joke after joke.
I’m raking the scripts over the coals. Tightening the narrative. Driving myself insane by cutting, tweaking, cutting. Mourning the loss of certain punchlines. Making sure the tone remains intact. And redefining and settling/on accepting that tone. Reading different versions to a select group of trusted friends for opinions. And the conclusion I’ve come to is: The only thing that really helps is…time. To give the piece space to gel and remove myself a bit so I can what really truly works. And…kill your darlings.
I go through this with all my scripts. And it never gets easier. It’s called: Prepping the shooting script. Gulp.