Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Writing is a lot like Gardening

I’m not sure if it’s the aftereffects of the time change or not, but it’s not even eight in the morning and I’m already drinking Mountain Dew. Not a good sign.

Speaking of signs, it’s spring in Michigan. Okay, maybe that’s a bit optimistic, but the recent warm spell sure makes it feel as though winter is gone. I even spent a few hours this weekend cleaning up our garden. Here’s what it looked like afterwards.

It may appear to be a mess now, but just wait until summer!

While I was removing the two barrels worth of leaves that had buried most of the patch, it occurred to me that gardening is much like writing a book. There are certain steps you have to go through if you want your book or garden to be great.

First you have to lay the groundwork. Decide where the boundaries will be, purge the area of rocks and weeds, and decide upon your overall theme. Cottage garden? Shade garden? Fantasy? Romance? You have to know this before you begin.

Next you consider the perennials – think of them as the basic structure of your story. They will form the backbone of the garden. Around them you will add annuals – think of them as the smaller story details (characters, setting, sub-plots). They have to fit amongst the perennials in a manner that enhances them. Is there too much of one color in one spot? Will the annuals overshadow the perennials? Are you putting shade-loving plants in full sun?

It’s easy to stick words flowers together. It’s blending them together in just the right way that makes a great book garden.

Of course, once everything is planted, your work isn’t over, unless you’re one of those people who write perfect first drafts. No, you have to keep your words watered and fed, you have to deadhead the parts of sentences that no longer add value, and you have to keep pulling out all the unnecessary words (that, was, really, etc.) that keep popping up like weeds everywhere. If not, your CPs wife and neighbors will complain. A lot. You may even find that some of the flowers need to be moved to other sections of the garden in order for them to shine.

I think that’s about it for the garden analogies today. I’ll keep you updated on the status of the garden over the year. I should warn you, however, that I’m not what you might call a true gardener. True gardeners think of bright colors in the same way many writers feel about adverbs. Too much marks the gardener as an amateur.

But I can’t help it. I love adverbs bright colors!

1 comment:

  1. I like this :-)
    I have to say, though, I sincerely hope I'm better at writing than I am at gardening, or else I'm in trouble ;-)