MURDER YOUR DARLINGS

25 Jul

Psycho_3Or: A common problem with bad art writing solved in a paragraph

The problem in question being that the writer is in love with proving how clever they are, instead of focusing on the fact that they’re supposed to be communicating. Jargon and in-group buzzwords either tacitly or deliberately display the status of some people and withhold power from others. There’s a place for specialised language in the advanced study and practice of almost any activity, but deliberately bamboozling with 50-point Scrabble words is showing off, not sharing. Plain but informative English is not the work of the uneducated or the uniformed; there’s a craft to plain English too.

Writer and critic Arthur Quiller-Crouch (1863-1944), nearly a century ago:

“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.

Echoed by crime writer Elmore Leonard, many years later:

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

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One Response to “MURDER YOUR DARLINGS”

  1. Alistair 29/07/2013 at 3:45 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

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