Sunday, June 01, 2008

Murder Your Darlings

Ungracious author responses to criticism are doing the rounds on the blogs again. Especially the rampage Adra Steia had in the comments section at Book Binge.

What strikes me most is the author's suggestion that criticising a book is like criticising some one's baby. I have made the comparison in jest myself. But the fact is Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's advice applies as much today as it ever did: murder your darlings. If your book feels like a baby then it may be a red flag about that author.

Of course emotional responses happen. And I must say I think the counter-attacks on blogs are basically author-baiting. This does introduce a level of 'be sure not to slip on the banana skin I thoughtfully placed in front of you'. But it does also demonstrate that ungracious responses do escalate the bad press.

After all, if you insult some one's baby they will probably walk away, not hit you with their handbag--if only to protect the baby from the ensuing scuffle.


Anonymous said...

I've never bought into the whole book-as-baby thing. I guess because my books could go up in flames and I'd get over it. I can't say the same about my kids.

Seeley deBorn said...

LOL. Yeah, anyone who sells their kid to the highest bidder then pimps it for all she's worth so as to make back money invested in advertising has some real issues.

lynneconnolly said...

"Murder your darlings"
Not only a book, but your special favourite passage in a book.
I've sliced some things I've adored at the behest of editors, and yes, they were right. Probably something I wrote for an early draft, maybe even the scene that gave me the way into the book, it has to go if the book goes somewhere else.
While I'm writing the book it's my baby, my darling. When I'm finished and I send it to my editor, it's giving someone else the right to have a say in the way it goes.