Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary...

Now that summer (finally) seems to be here for real, I was able to get out in my garden this past week and do some well-needed clean up. You know the drill. Weeds needed to be pulled or chemically sprayed, bushes needed to be trimmed, overgrowth needed to be eliminated...all of those maintenance type things.

Of course while I worked, I began thinking of the inevitable writing comparisons.

Let's start with the weeds. I guess this is fairly obvious. These are the things that just don't belong in my writing and they need to be yanked out of there immediately, if not sooner. I guess it would be words like: that, saw, felt, watched, thought, knew, realized, etc. etc.

Then let's move on to trimming. This would be spots where I've used three dozen words and three would be sufficient. Getting rid of those prepositional phrases at the end of sentences: to her, at him, for her, etc. Things like 'seemed to', 'tried to', and 'began to' need to be replaced with simple past tense verbs. And even cutting back on the backstory to really get the plot moving forward.

And finally, ah yes, there's the overgrowth. When I first started my backyard garden, I was so thrilled to actually have things growing instead of a vast expanse of lawn I let things sprout up pretty much where ever. As long as it wasn't a weed (Okay, caught me...I even kept some of those if they had a pretty flower on them.) I let it grow. Now that the garden is 'mature', I have things growing in places where things don't need to be. Don't get me wrong, I still love the flowers. They just don't belong in certain spots (overgrowing the path, blocking the stepping stones, pushing their way through the grate of the fire pit, etc.). After all, I want my backyard to look like a garden, not a jungle. Sometimes I move them to a more sensible location, and other times, no matter how beautiful they are...I yank them out, because they just don't belong. The same goes for writing. Some things just don't belong in a particular chapter, section, or even story. Sometimes, they can be cut from one place and used in another. Other times, no matter how beautifully I've written a just doesn't belong...and it needs to go.

Writing, like gardening, requires time, nurturing, care, and attention to detail. But when all is said and done, the end result is beautiful.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


P.S. For a peek at the cover of A Christmas to Remember, (coming this holiday season) be sure to hop on over to my web-site.


Morgan Mandel said...

The flowers are absolutely gorgeous, and so is your new book cover!

It is so romantic, Debra!

Morgan Mandel

Emily R. King said...

I really relate the the trimming! My first draft is often full of areas in need of trimming. I love this analogy, and I'll think of it as I tend to my garden. Thanks!

Debra St. John said...

Hi Morgan,

A couple of people have used the word 'romantic' to describe the new cover. Works for me!

Hello Emily,

It seems every time I get out into my garden the writing analagies start flying at me!

Fiona L. Woods said...

I agree, the cover is romantic.

The flowers in the photo on your blog post, are they from your garden? Are they lilies? They're a beautiful color.

The analogy between writing and gardening is perfect. When I write a first draft I throw everything in there. I prune later after it's bloomed and needs to be deadheaded. :)

Debra St. John said...

Hi Fiona,

Yes, the flowers are from my garden...not this year, though. They haven't bloomed yet, although they're getting ready to. Yep, they're lilies.

Thanks for the compliment on the cover!