Thursday, June 11, 2015

W is for Weeds

Debra takes a look at editing.

I was weeding my garden this past weekend and grumbling about how the weeds seemed to be thriving more than the actual plants. Some weeds are pretty, and I sometimes think about keeping those some would call 'wildflowers', but overall getting those weeds out of there is important so they don't overtake and strangle the tomato and pepper plants I want to grow. Sometimes I need to call in an expert (by the name of Mom) to help me determine which are weeds and which should be kept.

Writing is a bit like that too. When we're in a groove, words are flowing, filling up the pages, but those words aren't always the ones we keep in the end. Lots of weeding and cutting need to be done during the editing process so our stories can bloom. During the editing process, there are some 'weeds' very obvious to spot. Repeated words. Intruders. Too many 'thats'. POV shifts in the middle of scenes. Other 'weeds' are a bit trickier. Those words that seem pretty and even flow well, but don't do anything to move the story forward, and in fact detract from, strangling and overwhelming, the story we actually want to tell. Sometimes it's difficult to tell what we should keep and what we should cut, and it's here those experts come in again: fellow writers, editors, critique partners.

Sometimes it's not only the weeds we need to worry about in our stories, but the thriving 'plants' as well. Sometimes there's just too much, and we need to cut, dig out, possibly to 'replant' in another scene, or perhaps even in another book.

Gardening and writing both take time, patience, and perseverance. But the end result is well worth it and pleasing to the eye and ear.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. What a great metaphor, Debra.
    A gardener can hurt the harvest by not thinning carrots or beets.

    1. And too much prose clogging up a manuscript can hurt your story! :)

  2. Great comparison, Debra - and when I'm writing the first draft, there are times when I feel I am actually planting more weeds than flowers!

    1. I know exactly how you feel, Paula. Weeds tend to flourish in both my garden and my writing. (Sometimes better than the 'good' stuff!)