Monday, 10 April 2017

Kill your darlings

I first heard the saying "kill your darlings" from Stephen King's book, "On Writing: A memoir of the craft".

What I didn't realise was that Mr King was paraphrasing a much earlier writer, Arthur Quiller-Couch.

Mr Quiller-Couch said in his 1916 collection of speeches and essays, where he speaks about knowing whether writing contains 'style' or not.
He says "if you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: '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.'" (pp. 234-235)

OK, so this says 'murder' not 'kill'. But the sentiment is the same.

And now we know where Mr King's inspiration came from.


  • King, Stephen (2000). On Writing: A memoir of the craft. USA: Scribner.
  • Quiller-Couch, Arthur Thomas (1916). On the Art of Writing. UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Spangenberg, Lisa L. (2010). Murder Your Darlings. Retrieved 6 February 2017 from

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