“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Originally a quote by William Faulkner but King just adds that something extra to the eternal struggle of letting go of your favourite lines when they just aren’t working. It’s a problem I’ve been grappling a lot with this week and one I think will always be tricky for me as a writer.
The first week of rehearsals is always the most exciting and the most difficult for me. Watching for the first time the world I’ve created in my brain become a reality is always a nerve-racking experience, but the great part about being in the room while it happens is that it gives me the chance to keep the script constantly alive and evolving. I’m a great believer that you can never really know if a moment or an idea works until you give it a chance to get up on its feet. Actors are a talented bunch and it’s incredible to see them imbue even the most boring of your lines with meaning. Which means it is also equally important to trust them when I can see that a line I have so loved on the page can’t materialise in the way I thought.
To admit your favourite lines don’t work can be incredibly disheartening. It’s never the short punchy boring lines that don’t work, but the ones you slaved over, the ones that create the images you felt were so perfect, so encapsulating of the clever idea you want to get across. Currently this is the case with two of my monologues in Captured. Every time I hear them I know that something isn’t right and the original idea I had just isn’t working. Maybe there are too many metaphors? Or perhaps the meaning isn’t clear enough? Do I need to write more or does something need to be cut? Luckily for me I am in a position to be working so closely with the actors, hearing the lines aloud every day and hopefully (eventually) distilling a much clearer and more impactful final draft. So wish me luck – there’s going to be a lot of late nights at the keyboard!