Kill Your Darlings?

During the editing process of Marigolds, the rooftop short film, I spoke to the cameraman about the edit. He'd completed a good rough one. We found that we had some setup and back story but lacked the moment the main character climbs out of the window. We didn't show how he got onto the ledge in the first place. Although never intended to be shown, it did seem to be missing. However, on further inspection and advice from others, we realised we could actually jump ahead and start with the moment he meets the woman on the ledge. This cut out a minute and a half (including titles). The rough cut was 9 minutes from a 6-page script shot on one day. We knew some needed to be lost. However, it's dissapointing to lose the shots of him moving with his back against the screen and especially a shot of a balloon passing by him. Especially as we got it in one take!

Most of you will be aware of the phrase Kill Your Darlings, used to refer to the phenomenon of having to oftern having to remove your favourite lines for the sake of the story. In fact, the phrase has been misquoted. It's Murder Your Darlings. The originator is Cornish writer, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863–1944). In On the Art of Writing, published in 1916 he wrote:


To begin with, let me plead that you have been told of one or two things which Style is not; which have little or nothing to do with Style, though sometimes vulgarly mistaken for it. Style, for example, is not—can never be—extraneous Ornament. You remember, may be, the Persian lover whom I quoted to you out of Newman: how to convey his passion he sought a professional letter-writer and purchased a vocabulary charged with ornament, wherewith to attract the fair one as with a basket of jewels. Well, in this extraneous, professional, purchased ornamentation, you have something which Style is not: and if you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.

     But let me plead further that you have not been left altogether without clue to the secret of what Style is. That you must master the secret for yourselves lay implicit in our bargain, and you were never promised that a writer’s training would be easy. Yet a clue was certainly put in your hands when, having insisted that Literature is a living art, I added that therefore it must be personal and of its essence personal.

The extract has beeen taken from here.