Sharon Lynn’s short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. Her Cotswold Crime series will debut in December 2022 with Death Takes a Bath. You can find out more about her on her website, or by clicking here, see her stories here, and read her last post here.
Kill Your Darlings is a phrase used in both writing and filmmaking. It refers to those scenes that you labored over, that you lovingly crafted, that you tell your editor are deal breakers.
When making a movie, it is often the scene that the director spent the most money on, used the most extras, and took the longest to shoot. It is like the cutting room floor is littered with cash to cut it. (metaphorically – we use computers now). Cut them, anyway.
In writing, the term sometimes refers to a scene with particularly poetic language, like a description of a sunrise that would make Shakespeare proud. Those pages rarely, if ever, fit into the story. Kill them.
For me, my darlings are set dressings. Since my series Cotswold Crimes, is set in England, I want everyone to see it the way I do. Which tends to make my first drafts more like travelogues than mysteries. Delete them.
Well, not completely deleted. I may have a document, an embarrassingly long one, of unnecessary scenes. Like the following when 19 year-old Maddie orders her first tea at the famous Sally Lunn’s in Death Takes A Bath (release date December 2022):
“What can I get for you?” A server appeared from nowhere, notepad in hand.
“A pot of Earl Grey tea and a scone, please.” Throwing caution to the wind, I added, “With clotted cream.”
Everything arrived on white porcelain. The clotted cream wasn’t very creamy, but more well, clotted. After poking at it, I sampled a clump on my scone. My nose wrinkled as I tried to figure out what it tasted like.
“Anything else, then?” the server asked.
“What?” I jumped at being caught with a goofy expression.
“Our Sally Lunn bunns are a national treasure,” she dutifully informed me, sounding bored.
“May I have one to go?”
“You can get a box of nine Bunnies if you like, love.”
Love. She called me “love.” Like I was in a movie.
It was important for me to remember that in England, everyone had an English accent, so I couldn’t automatically agree with everything anyone suggested to me.
I love this scene. I have these problems when I’m in England (both making faces when tasting new foods and agreeing to things because of charming accents). I had already deleted the fact that Sally Lunn is the oldest tea shop in England having opened in 1680. Does it move the plot forward? Nope. And it’s not in the final book. But at least I got to share it here.
What are your darlings?