Kill My Darlings?

Recently, I’ve found myself facing an interesting dilemma with my writing. Or, rather, with my favorite story. The one that I’ve found myself coming back to, again and again, for over two years now. The one that’s always on my mind. The one I’ve dreamed about, several times.

What’s wrong with it?

It’s not very good.

I don’t mean writing-wise. I’m pretty sure the writing is pretty good in that (not in my opinion, but in others’). The characters are complex and developed—particularly my narrator, since she’s older than the story itself. My world is not entirely developed, but well enough for this first draft. My plot is, to me, fun and interesting.

So where’s the problem? It’s in the structure of the story. There’s not much tension or excitement. My climax is just kinda like “oh”, when it should be “oh!“. Now that I’ve taken a break from writing and given my mind some time to distance itself, I can see these problems clearly, which I was blind to when I was wrapped up in it.

So, why don’t I just fix it, you ask? THere’s the other side of the problem. The only way to truly fix that problem is to rewrite it entirely. But I have rewritten this story over a dozen times, no exaggeration. I don’t want to do it again.

I’ve been thinking a lot. This is my first story. And most authors’ first stories never go anywhere. One of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, wrote, I think about 13 books?, before he published. That’s a lot! And whereas there are exceptions out there (I believe Harry Potter was J. K. Rowling’s first book), that doesn’t mean I’ll be one. My first book is probably not going anywhere.

So should I just abandon it? The characters that have come alive in my head? The plot that I have spent the better part of two years perfecting? But if I’ve been working on this two years, and it’s still not the best it can be, will I ever get it anywhere?

Another option instead of abandoning it is to just leave it. Let’s face it, not everyone can write a masterpiece. And I might not be able to, either, so should I just leave it the way it is, and try to go somewhere with it? THe problem with this is, I know I can do better than this. I don’t want to publish a book that isn’t as good as I can possibly get it.

So I have three options at this point. A. Abandon it. Kill my little darlings, as my mom put it. B. Don’t worry about it. C. Rewrite it again.

My mother suggested that maybe if I rewrite it, I should change something. Tell the story a different way. So that it seems different enough that I can get it right without falling back to what I did before, but it’s still the same story. Her suggestion was to change the PoV to a different character.

Then I thought of something else. Kind of option B1. Keep writing it, but don’t publish it. I can finish the book and the series, and then it’ll be something that will be on only my shelf.

I keep thinking, and I honestly can’t decide which option is best for me and my book. It’s so hard.

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4 thoughts on “Kill My Darlings?

  1. Sounds like quite a conundrum. You’re right though, in that as your first book, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll get published…or from a more positive angle, it won’t necessarily get published *first*.

    If you don’t want to write it again, then I’d say that pretty much rules out option C. It won’t be the best you can do, and will probably be a rather unpleasant task which will make you hate your own work, so that’d be a complete waste of time and effort.

    One of the things I found hardest to learn was the fact that there’s no rush. Obviously it’s down to you to decide, but I’d suggest trying something different. Write the first few chapters of another idea. You might find that A) You fall so in love with your new idea/world/characters/story that you want to spend all your time on it, and won’t mind leaving the other book alone for a while (which doesn’t mean you don’t like it any more), or B) Trying to work on something else makes you really just how deeply connected to your first book you are, and sends you running straight back, desperate to give it the transformation you think it needs.

    Whatever you choose, happy writing 🙂

  2. Actually, Harry Potter wasn’t Rowling’s first series at all. If I remember correctly, she worked on one other series beforehand and eventually killed it because of how bad she thought it was. I guess all of us have to start somewhere 🙂

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