I see a story’s growth from beginning to end, much like the stages of a garden.
Stage 1 – Planting the Seed - This part is fairly simple. Just write down your idea. Get it on paper.
It’s like planting a seed in the soil. If you don’t plant it, it won’t take root. If you don’t write your idea down, it will never become a story.
Stage 2 – Tending your Garden – Once your seed (idea) has had time to germinate, it is the time to feed and water it. Add to your idea. Put more words on the page. Now is not the time to prune or weed. Your story may yet be too tender.
Stage 3 – Weed Gently - As your seedling (story) grows, step back and look at it. Reread it. Where does it need weeding? What words repeat? What phrases don’t belong? Gradually begin to edit. All the while, continue to feed and water your story to help it grow.
Stage 4 – Some Hard Pruning May be Necessary - At times, stories grow out of control. If that happens, it might best to cut back large portions of the text. You’ll notice what needs cutting back if you read your story out loud. Are there parts that sound like they don’t belong? Try cutting them out. Reread. Does the story flow better? Pruning is a difficult task and may even seem cruel as you take out extraneous words, sentences, or paragraphs. But, like plants, stories are best when you trim them up a bit.
Stage 5 – Adding to Your Garden - A garden is at its best when there are many types plants and when these plants are in various states of bloom. Don’t limit yourself to that one seed of an idea. Plant (write) another and another and another!
Stage 6 – Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labors - Like a garden, writing is a work of art that is meant to be shared. You don’t have to wait until your garden is in Better Homes and Gardens before you admire your work. And, you don’t have to wait until your story is published before you celebrate your creation.
How does your garden grow? Do you find parts of the writing process more difficult or easier than others? How do you tend to your writing?