Variations on the phrase "Kill your darlings" have been distributed as a piece of writing advice since at least 1914, when author Arthur Quiller-Couch presented it as a practical rule in his lecture "On Style." For showrunner Terence Winter and the writers' room of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," however, the idea of jettisoning the most precious parts of what they were writing extended beyond dialogue or individual scenes to include whole characters and the actors who played them. Anytime you...

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