Cover Photo: an illustration of hands with deep pink fingernails holding an open book; on the left page is a picture of a pad of yellow paper filled with indistinguishable writing and a black pen and two crumpled sheets of yellow paper; on the right side is a photograph of the author, R.O. Kwon, in an oval frame
Photograph of R.O. Kwon by Smeeta Mahanti / Illustration by Eliza Harris for Catapult

A Case Against Killing Your Darlings

I want any novel I write to be full of darlings. If possible, all darlings.

Only when I had a more substantial draft did I start working with the words I had in place, trying to pull every phrase, line, and page up to the level at which the so-called darlings, like higher beings, already existed. I knew I might have finished The Incendiaries when I could open the book at random, read a few lines, and not feel compelled to revise it all over again.

R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, is published by Riverhead (US) and Virago/Little Brown (UK). Kwon coedited the bestselling anthology Kink, which is published by Simon & Schuster (US) and Scribner (UK). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.