Style, for example, is not — can never be — extraneous Ornament. You remember, may be, the Persian lover whom I quoted to you out of Newman: how to convey his passion he sought a professional letter-writer and purchased a vocabulary charged with ornament, wherewith to attract the fair one as with a basket of jewels. Well, in this extraneous, professional, purchased ornamentation, you have something which Style is not: and if you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: “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.”

Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863–1944). British poet, novelist, scholar, critic
On the Art of Writing, Lecture 12 “On Style,” Cambridge University (28 Jan 1914)

The writing advice "murder your darlings" or "kill your darlings" has been widely attributed to other writers, including William Faulkner, Allen Ginsburg, Oscar Wilde, and G.K. Chesterton. More information here.

Added on 6-Feb-14 | Last updated 6-Feb-14
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  1. Pingback: Athill, Diana - In "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction," The Guardian (20 Feb 2010) | WIST

  2. Pingback: King, Stephen - On Writing, ch. 12 (2000) | WIST

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