Kill off all your darlings.
You know: the parts you howled,
wept or bled over as you wrote.
Put the ending first,
the beginning last and reverse
sentences whenever possible.
Change commas to colons,
colons to question marks—
and absolutely, positively, under
no circumstances use exclamation marks!!
Omit all violence, ideas and emotions,
references to religion, politics and gender.
Always use “said” and never “scolded,”
“expostulated,” “exploded” or “screamed.”
Finally, highlight everything but action—
no editorializing, exposition, sermonizing,
no profanity, slang or propagandizing —
and please no contemporaneous names
to date your timeless,
deathless, priceless prose.
Then close your eyes
and press delete. What remains
is what you’ll leave for eternity.
about the author
West Virginia native Ed Davis recently retired from teaching writing full-time at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. He has also taught both fiction and poetry at the Antioch Writers’ Workshop and is the author of the novels I Was So Much Older Then (Disc-Us Books, 2001) and The Measure of Everything (Plain View Press, 2005); four poetry chapbooks; and many published stories and poems in anthologies and journals. “Time of the Light” is his new full-length poetry collection from Main Street Rag Press. He lives with his wife and cats in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he writes, bikes, hikes and blogs on mostly literary topics at www.davised.com.