Digging Weeds from the Story Garden

Window in wall

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where my story is?

There I was, skipping merrily down the path, sun shining, the birds maniacally tweeting, and my brand new sneakers soft and bouncy. The path ended abruptly. I smacked face first into a brick wall, bending my nose 20 degrees out of joint. Where did this brick wall come from, you ask? Why, I put it there myself. 2/3rds of the way through the Newest Fantasy Novel, my little happy boat ‘o progress sank like a concrete mafia block with my characters tied to the sides.

I was stuck.

And not even at a hard part. I was stuck on something that I had written in the rough draft that sounded fine at the time, but now needed tweaking. My tweaker wasn’t working. I made four attempts at cleaning/scrubbing/spackling over the problem area. Nothing took. Me being me, I went back to the beginning of the novel and read it all again, 35 chapters. Along the way I went Oh. Hmm. I didn’t realize I did that. Wow, so that’s where that section derails.

I found my lost thread hidden several chapters back from the problem. I gave it a yank and it flopped out of the novel to hit me in the face like a wet fish. Here, dummy, this is where you need to be to get unstuck up the creek. I had been trying to write past the end point of the issue. Right there, in my problem paragraph, was the end of the chapter. I was just too caught up in making it conflict-y, lean and spare that I failed to take the idea to its logical conclusion. So I went back to the inciting thread, expanded that part a bit more, so that what comes later makes more sense. I expanded problem paragraph past its anorexic roots, and it worked. The paragraph was happy, I was happy. All is right in my imaginary world. Onward!

Moral of my story, it works for novels, and for poems. Lately I’ve been editing my poems with a chainsaw, when maybe some pruning shears would have been better. Seed, water, let it grow, then prune. Or if necessary, add fertilizer and let it expand. Within reason, because man, if you add too much, or the wrong kind, that stuff can stink. Don’t let your writing stink. Be a good gardener. Oh, and planting a flower or two along the way for later enjoyment never hurts.

How is YOUR spring writing going?

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