You may be thinking, “Not another killing your darlings post!” Wait. Just wait. I want to talk about resurrecting your darlings. Using dark magic (necromancy) or brilliant flashes of insight, technology, and lightning (Victor Frankenstein) to spark life into forgotten and dead texts. So grab a shovel, some mad scientist goggles, and let’s get to work.
To resurrect your darlings, you must first have killed them. I’m sure it was painful. No one likes to take a knife and cut away a piece of their creation. But let’s face it, if it wasn’t doing work (moving your story along) it was little more than a beautifully written parasite sucking away the readers enjoyment.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of, “Killing your darlings,” then here (an article on the origins of the term), here (an article from author Melissa Donovan about understanding the term), and here (a podcast from Writing Excuses discussing the concept) are some places to check out.
Now for the weird science and dark magic.
I really enjoy the idea of killing your darlings and tossing them into pickle jars full of formaldehyde. The Frankenstein monster, after all, was made up of bits and pieces of people. Despite where those people came from, they were certainly loved at some point. Much like your own discarded creations.
With that being said, don’t put you fallen darlings on boats and push them out into the river only to set them ablaze with flaming arrows (backspace them out of existence). Cut them out and paste them somewhere else. Have a graveyard document full of them. Then, when you get bored, try stitching them all together and blasting the manuscript with creative lightning. Who knows what may spring to life.
Another concept I really like, is using some dark magic to resurrect those darlings and have them serve you from their afterlife. I remember when I was a kid and DVDs just starting coming out. Suddenly deleted scenes were available to watch. Holy smokes it was glorious! Those scenes didn’t make the cut for the final movie, but hey, they lived on afterward.
Your resurrected zombie darlings can do the same work for you. Use them as teasers on your author blog, newsletters, or other social media avenues. My friend M.L.S. Weech (author and necromancer) did just that with one of the removed scenes from his book Caught. You can check that out here. I know he also sends this information out to his hundreds of newsletter subscribers and has told me he receives positive responses.
Sometimes your manuscript may need a transplant here and there to improve function. Your fallen darlings are the unwitting donors. Once killed, you can use them as beats later on. Those two paragraphs of tantalizing description that destroyed the flow of the story, they can be broken down and sprinkled in later on. This is yet another form of resurrecting a darling.
By learning how to re-purpose dead things, we more easily learn how to take their lives. Put another way, if you know you can use your darling for something else, it’s going to be much easier for you to simply let go and do what needs to be done.
Goofy metaphors aside, it’s hard to suggest to a client/friend to remove a section of their manuscript. Even if the section is degrading the whole of their work. It’s harder still when the section is well-written. It becomes easier to suggest when you can offer insights as to what they could do with the removed pieces. Minus the macabre frills, the suggestions above are a few ways they can accomplish this feat.
That’s it for today. Have you found nefarious ways of re-purposing your darlings? What kind of weird science have you used? I’d love to hear about it. Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!