Kill the Darlings: Learning to Let Go

Eric Haywood  @Eric_Haywood  on the TV Writer Podcast #tvwriterchat talking about his career path.  As a writer he has worked in both TV and feature film.  He was very helpful sharing the many things he learned in his various roles.  One of the things that struck me was how he learned to let go of ideas when he was pitching as a TV writer.

This weekend I’ve been reading a 152 page first script from a first-time screenwriter.  In my story notes I will recommend scenes and sequences that can be edited down or cut entirely.  As a professional writer you will constantly be changing the script.  The sooner you are comfortable with the idea the easier it will be to make the changes.

In the past year I have cut entire characters, added characters, deleted scenes and written new scenes all at the request of the producer or through the producer, the line-producer, because of a variety of reasons: no meth freaks, add a scene at the ocean, cut the scene at the ocean because of cost, etc.

On a new script, even in the story development phase I’ve had to “redesign” an antagonist. The producer just said no to a character element.

It happens.

Even if it is your “best writing.”

Even if it is brilliant.

Rewriting is part of the business.  Be ready to adjust your script.

2 thoughts on “Kill the Darlings: Learning to Let Go

  1. I recently read Stephen King’s “On Writing”, and his sentiment along these lines was the same: be prepared to “kill your babies”. To let what slogs the writing down just…go. It was something he brought up a few times.

    It hurts to do it sometimes, but in the long run, is the idea better than a better read?


    1. It does hurt whether it is a great concept or a strong piece of writing. Part of learning to be a professional whether in narrative fiction or in screenwriting is being able to “adjust.” Thanks for the comment.


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