55 Rewrites

If you could get into your DeLorean and time-travel to the day you started writing this, would you do anything differently? I think I would have written it faster. I think I would have not doubted myself so much. I just think I would have paid more attention to what my gut was telling me, where to take the story.

There’s a great article over in the Washington Post that asks a number of playwrights about the process for writing their latest play. How long it took. How many rewrites. What was the most difficult scene. Favourite Lines. Lines or moments that had to be cut. All of the steps that go into the making, the crafting, the shaping of a play. It takes longer than you’ll think, than anyone thinks. Because of course all writing is sitting in your garret window with a billowing scarf and a ciggy and that play just magically comes fully formed out of your forehead like a unicorn sliding down a rainbow. That’s how it happens. Right? For everyone?

I’m always most interested in hearing about favourite lines that just had to be cut, either for time, for space, or just because they didn’t fit the piece. You can love a line of dialogue so much but sometimes it just doesn’t fit. The phrase isn’t “Kill your darlings” for nothing.

And because I have the internets at my fingertips, how fascinated was I to learn about the origin of the phrase “Kill your darlings” in a literary context. First coined in 1863 under the perhaps a little more vivid image of “murder your darlings.” Who knew?

About the author

Lindsay Price

1 Comment

  • Fascinating article. Now I won’t berate myself for going through 13 drafts of a play.

    About the phrase “murder your darlings.” It was coined by Arthur Quiller-Couch. But he was *born* in 1863. He used the phrase “murder your darlings” in a lecture in 1914.