The phrase was actually coined by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. In his 1916 publication On the Art of Writing he said:
“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscripts to press. Murder your darlings”'Murder your darlings' has since become 'kill your darlings', but the idea remains the same. It's tough advice to follow. You spent all that time getting the story just right. The opening paragraph alone took two days. Each word represents a piece of your soul. It has to be good, right?
So what happens when your second pair of eyes says that the first two paragraphs are extraneous? What about when your editor sends your manuscript back covered in bright red marks?
Kill your darlings.
Stephen King says it in his book On Writing:
“kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings”Swallow your pride, take a deep breath, and start slashing.
Speaking of killing and darlings, Anthony Rapino has announced the release of his novel Soundtrack to the End of the World. You can find out all about it over at his blog, and take part in a contest he has going on right now.
Also, for the next two days you can download his short story collection Welcome to Moon Hill for free. If you are a horror fan, do not miss out.