Matters of Grammar
Content. Copy. Correctness.


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Be Kind to Your Copy Editor: Kill Your Darlings

William Faulkner once said, "In writing, you must kill your darlings."  Stephen King added to the sentiment by saying, "Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings."

So what does kill your darlings mean, exactly?  It means that as a writer you should never get too attached, never find your work too precious to change.  It means loving a story line, a paragraph, a sentence and changing it anyway because it's the right thing to do.

As a copy editor, it can be really challenging when your writer is resistant to feedback.  After all, it's our job to suggest changes for things like tone and flow.  Our suggestions are never personal - we're not criticizing your writing or ideas.  We're simply that second set of eyes to point out things that may read awkwardly or not fit well in the grand scheme of the piece.  And it can be hard to accept our suggestions if you're too close to the work - if your writing is too darling.

So be kind to your copy editor - kill those darlings.  Take a deep breath, a step back and evaluate why you're resistant.  We know you love your work and there's nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it's essential.  We love our work, too.  Together, we make magic happen - your creativity and our subjectivity is a match made in heaven.  So let's collaborate and figure out what's best for your piece. Even when it's hard.  Even when it's loved.  When the darlings are dead, true masterpieces emerge - and isn't that what everyone wants?