Kill Your Darlings

‘Kill your darlings,’ is a phrase coined by William Faulkner. It refers to when I writer becomes overly attached to a chapter, scene, even just a sentence, of their own work. However, when looked at objectively, the inclusion would actually be to the detriment of the work. Kill your darlings is a call to remove those parts and focus on what needs to be there for the story. The ‘darling’ could be something as simple as a very flowery description.

With writing though, as many have I’m sure said before me, nothing is wasted. While the darling might not belong in the novel you are currently writing there could be a place for it elsewhere.

Below is a scene I was going to include at the start of my novel. I’ve now found a better way to begin. Its not exactly a darling but it is out of the novel.


Anbe Frell drew his long slender sword. His opponent Thancha Chalshol drew her weapon too. Around them the rest of the squadron looked on. Frell and Chalshol held their swords aloft and bowed their heads.

After a second they pointed their swords at each other. They tapped them together as if testing each other. Then the fight started more earnestly. Frell lunged to the left. Chalshol‘s swords was there to block him.

Chalshol lunged but Frell was there to answer. Her swords knocked Frell’s aside. They started to move round each other and the company stepped back. “Now,” Frell said, “you never know what situation you might be fighting in.”

“It’s never going to be this controlled,” Chalshol said, “the Anbe and myself know each other’s technique. We can anticipate.”

“Like that.” Frell moved his head to one side as the sword came in close. “You always have to be looking one step ahead.”

“In any normal fight you will have your staff with you…” Chalshol made a swift wrist twisting move that would have been painful for someone less well trained.

“But it is sometimes advantageous to lean in parts. After our last drill we found that all of you are lacking in some areas. It is my job and the Thancha’s job to make sure you all come back alive!”

The two of them continued to move around each other. The swords continued to clank. Nether was able to make contact with the other. “A battle will never be this controlled,” Chalshol said, “but we have to start somewhere.”

“Indeed,” Frell said. The two of them started to speed up as they twisted their wrists in combat. Frell held up his hand signalling an end to the demonstration. “We’ll pair off.” Frell begin pointing at members of the company at random. After a couple of minutes all the members of the company were assigned a partner. “Spread out,” Frell ordered, “we’re going to have a championship.” Frell walked with Chalshol away from the group. “Begin!”

Chalshol folder her arms as she watched the combat taking place. “Illth! Don’t drop your arm like that.”

“Tielul,” Frell called the woman Illth was fighting, “remember you can use both hands!”

“What do you think, sir?” Chalshol asked.

“We’re getting there, Thancha” he said, “they need to learn.”

“Without the staff it is difficult.”

“The enemy won’t present us with easy situations.”

“No, sir,” Chalshol said.

“We have our first winner.” He beckoned the two fighters to come forward. “Well done Dacsoshell.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Alcan. Do you think you know where you went wrong?”

Alcan absent-mindedly scratched the point of his ear. “No, sir. Dacsoshell was just better.”

“You can be better too,” Frell said, “both of you sit down be ready for the next round.” Frell folded his arms as be continued to watch. He looked away from the fighting and saw Loostal coming towards him. Loostal was a tall and lanky elf with a long face. He stopped a couple of strides in front of Frell.

In salute Loostal steepled his fingers and bowed his head. “Sir. Ma’am.”

In returning the salute Frell and Chalshol stepped their fingers and each inclined their heads. “What is it, Sethnag,” Frell addressed him by rank.

“Intelligence report, sir,” Loostal said, “they will be here within four days.”

“Have you informed home?”

“Yes, sir,” Loostal said, “it will likely be a small force though. Perhaps forty of them.”

“We will be ready,” Chalshol said.

Frell, Chalshol, and Loostal looked back at the remaining fighters. Three more bouts had ended and Frell told them to sit and conserve their strength. “We’re still going to finish this tournament.”

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