Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Novel Love List

Often when I have to make a gut-wrenching decision about my story, I get a wee bit depressed. Killing a darling has a nasty side-effect: it makes you question everything else in the story.

I mean, if that scene you absolutely love wasn't any good, what about everything else you hold dear? Should it be trashed, too?

Of course not.

As a side note, I should say I believe killing your darlings isn't as much about removing all you hold dear as it is about taking out what has no place in the novel, whether you love it or not.

Now, back to the business at hand. Don't trash everything you love in a story. You'll hate what's left, and won't have any reason left to write it. No, after a good ol' darling-killing, there's only one thing you can do.

A Novel Love List

It's simple. You list everything you love about your novel in bullet form. You can do this whenever you feel your story drags, when you're no longer excited to sit at your keyboard and work on it. When you think it's all a pile of crap, and nobody will want to read it. 

Remind yourself why you would read it, first. Go back to what enticed you to write it.

Here's my White Echoes novel love list!

  • Hot air balloons. Aircrafts
  • Genetic engineer bad guy
  • Character with argyria
  • Propaganda!
  • Captain Vermen. Andeal. Seriously, I'd write it for these two guys.
  • Fireworks at the end. Literally!
  • Green-glowing roof
  • Virus and bacteria gone wrong. Scary as shit.
  • Hot air balloon. Oh, wait. Said that already.
  • Conspiracy. Manipulative jerks. Crowd control. FUN times.
 I could go on for a long time. It'd include several more instances of 'hot air balloon' but there'd be other things, too!

This little exercise is much like a pat on the back, but sometimes it's essential to remind ourselves why we write these stories and keep the flame alive.

Yes, your early love might not have its place in the story anymore. That doesn't mean the entire novel is worthless.

Look at it again. Love it. Write it.


  1. What a great idea!

    And I've just realised what my WIP needs: hot air balloons! How is anything not improved by adding hot air balloons?

    And the conspiracy and propaganda go without saying!

  2. Are you tricking us into making a hitlist of darlings that will have to be killed? (Paranoia is one of my bullet points.)

  3. Hot air balloons, propaganda and genetic engineering, oh my! I would totally read that book.

    Hmm, mine is more emotionally thematic, but I'm gonna go create an awesome list right now! (After I do some more editing, that is.)

  4. Jen: Every WIP needs hot air balloons. Every. Single. One.

    Hektor: Maybe... maybe not. ;) I'll let you think about that one.

    cookie: Thanks! I really love the individual elements I have in this WIP. I try to focus on them when the overall story seems 'Meh' to me.

  5. If you like hot air balloons, have I got a blimp-train for you...

    I should also do this with my WIP. And think of something to call it, other than "May".


  6. Oh, man, I need to do this. I am so out of love with my story right now. Too much familiarity I think.

  7. cosmam: blimp-train? Seriously? Blimp. Train. <3 So awesome.

    LG: Familiarity indeed. When I see these elements in my story, I don't get excited. They're just... there. Normal.

    Looking at them on the list, though, I can't help but think "these are so cool!" And I remember why I put them in, and how well they fit with the rest.