Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pruning

Sometimes, I reach the end of a story and realize that it’s grown too long. Offshoots and tangents distract from my plot. Lacking focus, a believed to be exciting tale instead branches into unexplained, different directions.

I thought about that yesterday evening after work as I pruned the backyard’s flowers. The Confederate Jasmine that I’ve trained to wind its way up and over the pergola needed all sorts of attention after an isolated winter. I snipped here and there, trying to give it back its natural look. Needless to say, this vine would have looked much better had I done a little at a time. It would have taken less time to fix, too.

Stories are the same way. Just like with a plant, you have to know how you want it to look before you start shaping it. Remember in KARATE KID, Mr. Miyagi carefully trimming his bonsai tree, slowly shaping it as it grew? The end result of any carefully groomed plant will be a prettier plant that looks much more natural. Authors want the same with their stories. It just takes a little foresight and a little grooming as you go.

Now, if only I had kept up with the Confederate Jasmine this winter …

8 comments:

  1. Sometimes snipping doesn't do the trick for me. That's when I pull out the Sawzall because there are some mighty limbs that need to come down :)

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  2. I save all my edited material in a seperate Word document and I'm amazed that most of the time I have enough material left over for a second and third story.

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  3. luv the analogy! Great post!

    Christy

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  4. The sawzall?!? My carpenter crafting father loves the sawzall. CHOP!

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  5. Hi David - I'm glad I'm not the only one with leftover material. I realized at one point that my cut material was 2x as long as my story. Then, it just kept growing and growing. Yes, it's definitely good to save those cast offs. Plus, I've sometimes re-inserted the deleted material.

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  6. And that's a good metaphor, not just for writing and gardening -- but for practically everything!

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  7. You're right, Bee. Even ... (gasp) paying bills! I knew there was something else I ought to be doing this evening.

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