Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett

Murder your darlings

“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.”

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

This quote, or a version of it, has been attributed to many writers Quiller-Couch was the original source. It’s unlikely you’ve ever heard of him, so this Wikipedia page will help.

The key point here is that often when you think you’ve written something brilliant, you probably haven’t. This is something older journalists would knock out of juniors during training. These days the young ones don’t have time for fancy writing.

Using a word like Murder is a great way of making the message memorable.

Another way of putting the same idea is: Don’t try to be clever. Keep your writing as simple as possible.