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Sunday, April 02, 2006

That Red Pen

Steven King said "Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings"
The darlings he refers to are those scenes you've toiled over, fallen in love with but they really just don't work. For the good of the book, they need to be sacrificed. I can attest to the fact that the book will be better with a few tombstones in the background. THAT is why I love my little red pen. It's said that every girl should have that little black dress--the essential item in their wardrobe. Well, every writer, regardless of genre, sex, experience, and resume, should have their little red pen. If you want to write the best book in you, you've got to be willing to kill off the unecessary elements.
And it doesn't JUST apply to the words you write. That little red pen, the killing of your darlings also factors into how and when you write. Can you kill off that 1/2 hour sitcom on Tuesday nights? Can you sacrifice the alarm that goes off at 7:00 and set it for 6:00? The only way to find that time is to kill off something else you've come to value. Will it be easy. I certainly hope not--because ease breeds idleness and if you're idle about your writing, then what time you do find will be wasted. No one wants to read the words of a pampered pontificator.
As a member of the LDS church I find continual self-evaluation to be a priceless gift--my own personal red pen for my own personal development. The fact that I can do better today than I did yesturday and better tomorrow than I did today is both a gift and a challenge. It's the same with my writing. To make it the best it can be, means I have to figure out the weakspots and make them strong or cut them out. In my own life, if I want it to be the best it can be I have to do the same.
So cheers to the little red pen!! Long may you bleed upon my pages, despite my egocentric little scribblers heart. I'm better because of you.


tcallred said...

Very well put!

Darvell Hunt said...

From someone who has benefited greatly from Josi's red pen on more than one occasion, I'm going to have to agree with her on this one.

You need to make your manuscript bleed until it hurts and becomes red all over. Only then can it really heal and become better. (And man, does Josi really make manuscripts bleed!)


Darvell Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Darvell Hunt said...

Ignore that previous post. That was a mistake!

I've referenced this blog post of Josi's in a recent blog post of my own, which you can find here:


Tristi Pinkston said...

Josi makes 'em bleed but they're the better for it!

And now I'm really curious -- what did Darvell say that he wished he didn't? That deleted blog is very suspicious ...

Darvell Hunt said...

> And now I'm really curious --
> what did Darvell say that he
> wished he didn't? That deleted
> blog is very suspicious ...

Wow, I can't remember. That DOES look suspicous. Hmm. LOL.