KYD or Kill Your Darlings is a writing exercise I developed to win writing contests and craft potent vignettes used to build winning stories. I taught it to members of my Super Secrets Workshop, and had them practice the exercise at least once a month. Amazing–some would say miraculous–results followed. Almost all of the writers were unpublished when they began, but their writing transformed. Workshop members ended up either becoming a Finalist in the international Writers of the Future Contest, winning the Contest (four to date), winning the Mike Resnick Memorial Award for New Writers, or achieving their first professional sales in magazines and anthologies.
The editor of DreamForge Anvil magazine was so impressed with the results in my workshop, he commissioned me to write an article on the subject. Here’s his introduction to the article:
Stephen King said it best. “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” We need to be ruthless with our work— every word we write is not sacred. Get your words on the page, but be sure to go back in and give them a cold hard stare, knife in hand.
It’s free to read at the DreamForge website. Improve your writing by clicking HERE!
This article gives the basics you need to craft leaner, meaner stories. If you’d like to learn the actual exercise to transform your writing, you need the workshop I teach on it! I’m conducting a virtual KYD: Kill Your Darlings Exercise master workshop at Fyrecon Online this year! Here’s the details:
KYD: The Kill Your Darlings Exercise
5 Hour Live Online Master Workshop for $119
(includes Whole Conference general admission to Fyrecon Online , a $60 value!)
Class is limited to 20 students
November 21, 2021, 11:00 AM to 3:50 PM Mountain Time at Fyrecon 5
Twenty-five years ago, I developed a writing exercise to help me win what was likely the largest international flash fiction contest ever held. The contest was the brainchild of Dan Hurley, famous as the Sixty Second Novelist. For one year, writers from around the world submitted their 250-word flash stories each week, and professional judges awarded prizes for first, second, and third place. 500 to 700 writers entered each week. At the end of the year, twelve professionals judged the 52 first place winners for the grand prize.
Two of my first place winners placed in the Top 10. One of those took Grand Prize, earning me the title of Writer of the Year. Number One … out of some 30,000 total entries.
This is the system I developed to help me win that contest. I call it “Kill Your Darlings.” Many writers I coach say it’s the #1 reason they obtained their first pro sales, made it into Best of the Year anthologies, and were finalists and winners in major writing contests like Writers of the Future. The first place story that won the Mike Resnick Memorial Award? That was crafted from a KYD.
The system works.
Want to shave years off your learning curve? If you take this workshop, I can teach you how.
“Wrangling your first professional short story sale is a lot like catching a fish with your bare hands. Sure, it can be done, but you’re going to need to know the secrets unless you want splash around like a fool for an embarrassingly long time.
Moon promised me that if I put in the work he gave me, I’d reduce my time to publication. His KYD exercise has helped me move from not even sniffing a sale, to winning the Mike Resnick Memorial award.
Moon is not just a keeper of (super) secrets. He is a keeper of promises.”–Z.T. Bright, author