October 13th 2009 Killing Your Darlings

Writers have an expression: kill your darlings. In a nutshell, this maxim encourages writers to eliminate story elements that don’t contribute to the central idea of the work. Even if you’re enamored with a interesting character, provocative idea, or witty turn of phrase, you can’t be afraid to cut material that doesn’t contribute to the piece.

Over the years, Monkey Robot has had a number of darlings. Before I redesigned the site last spring, I’d kept the same overall layout since Monkey Robot’s inception in 2004. In fact, I was so in love with the layout that all of my website designs ended up looking, more or less, like Monkey Robot. Part of the reason for the great redesign(s) of last spring was to break away from that look and try something new.

Likewise, the Person of the Week section was another darling I kept around, even though it hadn’t been updated in over three years (and hadn’t seen regular updates since 2004). So I let it go. Admittedly, it was a bit hard. Monkey Robot’s Person of the Week made me a minor celebrity at my high school, and was largely responsible for the site’s initial popularity. Classmates used to log on every week to see who had won the “prestigious” award. Beyond that, I like to think it was a showcase for some of my wittier writings. Whether adulatory or ironic, the site was an homage to those around me. But truth be told, I hadn’t had a passion for that aspect of the site since I graduated from high school, and the Person of the Week section made Monkey Robot feel a bit dated. It may seem crazy to remove one of the more popular aspects of Monkey Robot, but the Person of the Week was well past its expiration date.

Even so, I’ll miss the Person of the Week. Next time you’re drinking, pour out a beer for ol’ POTW.