Kill Your Darlings Challenge
William Faulkner supposedly said that one must kill their darlings. The intention and this is that a writer gets attached with a particular turn of phrase, scene, cleverness, joke and doesn't want to drop this from their writing and as a result weakens the overall effort.
A friend of mine who recently finished an MFA, commented about how difficult it was to get his stories past his adviser who required every word and sentence to perform more than one purpose. I like this idea and it is a thought that one can consider during revision. A scene in a novel that is just there to lengthen time and therefore increase suspense, maybe a good scene to consider chopping. However, if that scene does more than that, perhaps provide a reveal that explains why a character works the way the character does that can strengthen the book.
In a smaller arena, the idea of kill your darlings can apply to specific details that exist in your stories. I frequently get told that my stories create vivid imagery, but one thing I learned in poetry is that you can overdo the imagery. Instead of the canvas dripping with caked on paint, a sparse line here or there can create a more powerful response in the viewer.
The challenge: write a scene of 1000 words or less where one or more darlings have been excised from the story. Include one of the darlings you removed in an addendum or comment on the piece. The theme for this week is: Damascus steel (feel free to simplify this to a simple knife).
My favorite article that I found when looking for topics around this isn't exactly on killing your darling. More, it's on the creative process and letting oneself have the freedom to fail. The idea is to not be so precious, that feels like it has a relation to killing your darlings, but isn't entirely the same thing. See Teresa brazen's Podcast with Scott Berkun: Don't Be So Precious. I particularly liked the reference to Buddhist mandalas to describe the fleetingness of art and how one must be prepared to rule in that art and ways. I couldn't find a youtube video I liked of mandalas, but can recommend the Wikipedia article.
Brenda Coulter has a good article (How to Kill Your Darlings Without Remorse) on killing your darlings and particularly provides some specific methods that you can use in the process.
JA Konrath had a brief article on his webpage (it disappeared shortly after it originally played, so it may actually reappear later this week, or may have been removed permanently) that discussed killing your darlings and in particular the benefits of having someone outside the author who can provide a balanced judge of whether that darling should get hung.