Writing is a bit like giving birth; not just because it’s painful and messy and involves an awful lot of screaming and crying, but because you spend months (or years) of your life bringing a little part of you into the world, and even more time trying to mold it into the best version of itself.
So it’s natural to become attached to your work.
And just like it’s hard to hear criticism of your children, it can be difficult to hear criticism of your writing as well. And even more difficult to act upon that criticism.
Especially if doing so involves killing your darlings.
*Wonders if I should rethink this analogy. Keeps going anyway.*
Where was I again? Oh, right.
Killing your darlings. Deleting or changing beloved words/sentences/paragraphs/chapters/characters/plotlines/etc in your precious, precious work to (gasp!) improve it overall.
In revising my MG Fantasy, I just removed/rewrote my favourite parts: the witty, acerbic dialogue between my two MCs. Why? Well, because critiques had helped me realize their voices were two similar.
As much as I loved seeing my two characters snipe at each other, they couldn’t both be masters of snark. Not only was it confusing for readers, but it went against one MC’s personality. So, it’s gone.
Did it hurt? Damn Skippy.
But is the book better for it? I certainly believe it is.
And, as I enter my (hopefully) final revisions before sending it out into the world, I’ll be looking for more darlings that aren’t contributing to the overall quality of the book. Because no part of your manuscript should be considered too precious to improve* (insert gif of Gollum here).
*Not saying that every critique you receive will be right, or carry the same weight, but if you get multiple critiques of the same issue, it’s definitely worth considering ways to improve things.