Kill your darlings!
There seems to be an Anglo-American dispute over this quote, with some attributing it to the American novelist William Faulkner:
In writing, you must kill your darlings!
while others go for the older English writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch:
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.
Either way, it’s good advice. We all overwrite at times, and for writers of non-fiction, there’s an additional menace: the fascinating sidetrack. Continue reading
I’m feeling both sad and angry about the state of publishing at the moment. Someone I know is trying to get a biography published: it’s a great story about a fascinating couple, well written and with a wealth of copyright-free images. There’s even an international conference coming up next year that will deal with the 2 people concerned.
Yet one publisher says: ‘it’s just too difficult to sell a biography of people who aren’t household names in today’s publishing climate’.
There are several issues here. We all know that publishing is in trouble at the moment. We’ve all discussed this ad nauseum so I’m not going there now. But there’s also another problem: publishers want books on familiar topics, not on something new.
This problem is not limited to biography, but in a small market like Australia, it seems to be a particular problem in this field. Yet there are so many fascinating stories still to be told.