Monday, January 23, 2012

"Seymour! Feed Me!"

Utah weather is strange this year. We still haven't had a good snowfall and it's the middle of January. The weather was soooo nice last Saturday I decided to rake the leaves clustered around my front steps. My daughter and I raked and swept two garbage cans full of leaves. I dumped them in the garden.

While in the garden I had to laugh a little at myself. I remember a couple of years ago we dumped our moldy, gross pumpkins in the garden as well as squash we didn't get around to eating. I was thinking about how good those little gourds would be for the soil, not the consequences of hundreds of seeds scattered around as well.

When the ground warmed up, little green sprouts came up EVERYWHERE! I was giddy with the relief of not planting much that spring. Clusters of green appeared all over and I couldn't bear to thin them.

I hate to throw away a living plant that's doing good (I have no problem killing off all the Morning Glory!). We had at least 1500 plants coming up. I'm not kidding. If I exaggerated I would say we had 2000 plants. Only a handful produced something to eat or carve. And those were small. Soon I had a jungle in my backyard and I was a tad bit scared to forage! I had no idea what was hiding under all those prickly leaves.
My weakness taught me a lesson: I need the courage to thin the good stuff to produce the best.

This applies to editing, don't you think? We need the courage to thin our words to show readers the best. Too much wordage distracts us from the plot, distances us from the characters and draws us out of the story.
Too many adverbs or tags or adjectives or purple prose understand, distracts from a good story.
Be brave, dear gardeners of words. Those beautiful words you love so much will suffocate your work. You must edit. For your story, you must thin out the good stuff to produce the best.

Do you have trouble with too many words? How's your word count?


Julie Daines said...

I think I might have the exact opposite problem. I'm always pushing and stretching just to get my novels up to the minimum word count.

I think I need less thinning and more tossing out of all the seeds just to see what happens.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Great post! I totally agree. Chapters need to be trimmed, scenes need to be trimmed, and even sentences need to be trimmed to get down to where it focuses on what's really important without everything else getting in the way.

Even after all that, though, my word count is always high. Sigh.

Alice said...

I like the metaphor of the "gardner of words". I'm like Julie and tend to have more of a problem of not having enough words.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Love this! I have a bit in my book, Scales, about thinning stuff out for the good of everything else. It's painful, but necessary! Great analogy for writing too. :)

Taffy said...

I get to trim lots of adverbs and filler words. That's usually my problem!

Imogen said...

I hover between too many unnecessary words and not enough words. It depends on what I'm looking at. Of filler words, I have many, of important words like for setting, thoughts, emotions, I have next to none. It's so annoying sometimes and makes for lots of work. I do agree though, there are always words to be chopped and changed and pruned.

I know what you mean about pumpkins. We threw some away once, and they sprouted all around the compost heap. I was only small, and I hated them because they always reached out and scratched my legs when I went close.