Here’s a post by James Scott Bell at Kill Zone Blog: Don’t Kill Your Darlings—Give Them a Fair Trial!
This caught my eye because frankly the “kill your darlings” tidbit of advice always struck me as weird. I mean . . . if it’s a darling, it should be good. Assuming your taste is good, and let’s assume that. Then if it’s good, you should probably see if you can find a way to keep it in your book, not leap upon it with a butcher knife, hacking and slashing.
Anyway, I see from this post that Bell, at least, interprets the phrase as one that encourages authors to get rid of overly ornate, hard-to-follow prose. His conclusion:
It pleases me greatly to write darlings. So I don’t immediately plot their demise. I let them sit, I look at them again, I have my wife render an opinion, and then I decide if they must go. They get a fair trial. And sometimes they are set free!
Bell is advocating overwriting — including more stuff about the characters’ emotional reactions and so on — and then editing that kind of thing down.
As always, your mileage may vary. For me, I nearly always go through and *add* more about the characters’ emotional reactions rather than taking that kind of thing out. But he makes a good point given the specific example he offers.