Kill your darlings, and maim your friends

“Kill your darlings” is a great piece of writing advice from various people (including William Faulkner and Stephen King) recommending that you edit out all your most precious turns of phrase, and leave your work stronger.

“Maim your friends” is my personal advice on causing the maximum pain (and, just as importantly, danger of more pain) for your characters. (Sidebar: A couple of writers, like Robin Hobb, take it too far for me to ever re-read them. Most don’t take it far enough.) It hurts to do horrible things to characters you love – but it’s necessary. Plus, it pretty much comes along with the “godlike powers” thing that us writers like so much.

Here‘s one of Chuck Wendig’s delightfully rude and abrasive articles – this time on hurting your precious characters.

And here’s someone who’s an expert at killing and maiming:




Published by Felicity Banks Books

I write books (mainly adventure fantasy for kids and young adults), real-time twittertales, and a blog of Daily Awesomeness. @Louise_Curtis_ and My fantasy ebook is on sale at

2 thoughts on “Kill your darlings, and maim your friends

  1. Reading Robin Hobb books can definitely be draining, but it’s totally worth it. Believe it or not, Octavia Butler is way worse. I don’t recommend you read them, even though she writes incredible stories. The whole empathy thing (which she uses with precision) would set you off a deep end.

    1. W: Oh yeah, Octavia Butler definitely. Somewhat MA too, as I recall. (Justifiably so, but still not someone I want to read. I read for fun, not pain.)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: