Kill Your Darlings

by jsdraven on March 30th, 2015

“In writing, you must kill your darlings.”

It is literary advice meaning a writer must let go of their self-indulgent, and often favorite passages, in their work for the sake of quality. It doesn’t matter how much a writer likes a particular scene, character, or dialogue. It must go in the name of consistency, prose, pace, and so on.

A couple of entries back I wrote about how there’s a super hero trend in society’s entertainment. It’s charming in its simplicity–nostalgic even, for its return to innocence and a generation’s childhood memories. I commented on how I believe it’s humanity’s cry out in the dark, asking to be saved, asking for a hero to appear.

I still believe that.

And yet, I was talking to a friend of mine and admitted that I couldn’t wait for the next phase.


For as much as we love to lift someone (or some thing) to glorify to near apotheosis, we’re conniving and fickle. Dare I say, some of us enjoy the descent and ultimate demise of someone held on high. Why? We love the struggle, the strife, to witness someone dig themselves out of impossible odds. Is this why we tear someone down? Does exposing some fallible quality in our heroes humanize them and therefore a reflection upon us that we’re no different? Or, does the stark contrast in the righteous expose our blemishes and shame us until we sully the heroes to make them equal?

I’m convinced it’s somewhere in between. I often compare this struggle and pattern with Japanese Kintsugi–the art of repairing pottery with gold. In philosophical terms, the cracks in the pottery are just part of the history and not to be abhorred.

This is why I think anti-heroes are next. It’s a pattern. It’s in our nature. These sort of stories repeat themselves. Biblical, Roman, or Greek, they all follow a pattern. A hero or god rises, and we tear them down. We watch them fall.

What’s the end game here? Why must we kill our darlings? The answer feels just out of reach.

Icarus Mourned

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