4/19/12

Writing is like Gardening

This seems to be an odd statement, but a couple of days ago I had an epiphany.

"Lightbulb." (name the movie!)

As I've been posting some pictures of my backyard, I've come to realize how similar writing and gardening are.

When a writer first gets the germ of an idea, he lets it roll around in his head, thinking about all sorts of "what if's" before he puts his fingers on a keyboard.

When we first bought this house, the yard was sodded. No trees, no pool, no plants, no nothing, just grass. But as I found out when I mowed the yard, there were numerous 'microclimates' within the yard. There were stripes that were constantly green without the aid of above ground watering. Other areas were seriously hot from the western sun baking the earth. Some areas were very shady or only received morning sun. And so on and so forth.

The writer constructs an outline, deciding on characters and plot. The story picture is becoming a little more concrete. The writer has an idea of the beginning, the middle and the end. Perhaps the writer follows the three act structure or the snowflake method. But the story is beginning to take shape. This is the backbone of the story.

before
after new hardscape
The gardener plans the hardscape (the walkways, paths, stone), the location of trees (for shade, privacy, noise control), and the foundation plants (shrubs). This part of the work creates the backbone structure of the yard.

The writer writes the story, inserting dialogue, discovering subplots, works on characterization and adds emotion. The writer thinks about character arcs and overall story arc.

The gardener adds perennials, moves plants that aren't succeeding even though the "criteria" was appropriate when first planted. Remember, gardens grow, they aren't static. The gardener also thinks about seasonal flowering. You don't want the plants to only flower in the spring, that would make for a very boring summer and autumn.

Once the story is written, the work isn't finished. The writer will edit, delete scenes, words, rewriting entire sections of the story and rearrange story.

Trees grow, microclimates change, shrubs get too large. What used to be hours of sunlight, might now have reverted to only a few hours a day. The gardener will adjust his garden according to what he imagines as his final, albeit changing, garden.

During the last stage of writing, the writer will tweak sentences, find stronger words, and polish the final product for viewing.

The gardener adds colorful annuals--those plants that will only survive the season, but add bursts of happiness into a yard. The gardener will also weed, trim, deadhead and sculpt trees, shrubs and flowers.

A writer might tweak and change his story, but must eventually give up control if he wants to give readers the enjoyment of his words.

But the gardener is always able to tinker and change the look of his yard.

You might think that I'm exaggerating, but I feel that I've found a comparison that both writers and gardeners will understand.

What do you think?

Oh, the movie?

Despicable Me.

Minions RULE!!
Later, Peeps!

2 comments:

Twisted Sister said...

Good analogy!
I like seeing pictures of your yard.

M. A. Golla said...

Thanks, Meg! Hopefully, I'll have a few more in the future. I'm just using my phone so they aren't the best pics in the world.