Kill Your Darlings

Entry by: macdonald

15th January 2016
Kill Your Darlings

Dear Writer

Thank you for the recent submission to the Glum and Glummer Literary Agency and we did enjoy reading your book entitled
"Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown Combined". Although it is not quite right for us in its current form, we think you may benefit from some advice to help move your project forward.

Use of Language

Occasionally your writing gets a little flowery. One example of this occurs when a question arises about tomorrow's weather. Father Brown responds:

'Mercury, born in Arcady, shall change his shield and before his amber glow the light of the sun will dim and strike horror into those who witness it. This watery sun shall torment the clouds, Jupiter shall abandon her pre-ordained paths and cause Saturn to pour down on mortal men as though with a curved sickle. The Gemini will cease their wanton embraces and dispatch Aquarius to the fountains.'

We suggest that 'It's going to rain tomorrow' would be a more appropriate response for Father Brown to make.


Phatic utterances have their place and we do appreciate that an important plot thread is the conflict between Holmes and Brown as to whether Deductive Reasoning or Intuition is the talent more suited to the solving of a puzzling crime, but nonetheless we suggest that you consider removing:

'In point of fact',' When all is said and done', 'In the final analysis',
'Believe it or not', 'It occurs to me', 'To my dismay', 'I might add',
'I am reminded', 'Make no mistake', 'To my way of thinking', 'It goes without saying', 'Curiously enough', 'That is to say', 'As you
can see' and 'As I've pointed out'.

Especially during the climactic gunfight, when Holmes and Brown
are battling overwhelming numbers of Alien Vampires, these utterances add little propositional content and do tend to slow the action down somewhat.

Dialogue Two

It is possible that Holmes would slur his words after the savage beating he has suffered, but when he attempts to say:

"I'm going to make them an offer they can't refuse", this reads more like:
"I'm going to take out the refuse" and renders your climax more comic than dramatic. I think your readers would prefer him to speak clearly in this scene.

Dialogue Three

You may be unaware that the phrase above was only popularised many decades after the Edwardian Era and you may wish to reconsider your use of some other phrases which neither of your main protagonists are likely to have been aware of at the time. A few of these are:

'We're good to go', 'That's a wrap', 'Brain fade', 'Group hug', 'Give me five' and '24/7'.

Dialogue Four

Some very good authors rely almost exclusively on the word 'said' as a dialogue tag. We suggest that you do the same and remove most instances of chortled, gasped, sniggered, expostulated, rejoined, divulged, smirked, exclaimed, snorted and concluded.


The less said about your usage of commas, apostrophes and semicolons the better. However, there are some excellent primers on the subject of punctuation. We do suggest that you remove all 212 exclamation marks from the text and also please take note that it is accepted practice to insert a question mark following a question.

I hope you do not feel too discouraged by this advice and we wish you the best of luck in finding representation elsewhere in due course.

Yours sincerely

Caroline Glum

ps I have attached a short poem which you may find helpful as you revise your work

Your Darlings

From your soul those fine feelings arose
And those feelings became your prose.
We do understand why the words are dear,
But there is something you really must hear.

They're now your darlings, and yours alone,
All other readers would likely disown.
So bid them good-bye, wish them adieu,
Is the best advice I can give to you.

Kill those darlings, kill the lot,
A quick demise, most urgently plot.
Do not save them, rewrite the scene,
Eradicate any trace, they've ever been.

Press delete, tear them up, Go shred,
Grind their bones to make your bread.
Show no mercy, let them all go,
Leaving just one is a huge no no.

It's a rite of passage all authors must suffer
(And after that it only gets tougher).
Once the deed's done, we'll take another look
And re-consider publication of your book.