Happy May Day!
After enduring such a looong winter, I’m so embracing the green grass and colorful flowers of spring. Funny how May is finally producing all the beauty, warmth and joy of spring when spring actually began in March! Well, here in Colorado anyway. Technically, our last day to frost is May 5, but I can vouch for the fact that the temps in MY part of the world dip down low enough to keep our crab apple tree from ever blooming. Bummer.
Nevermind that : ) May is the month when small rodents emerge from their burrows, larger livestock begin to kick up their heels and us human-folk feel the need to clean. Well, hmm, about that “feel the need to clean” thing…I’m not saying this human-folk always follows that particular desire, LOL!
Either way, now that our house is clean, we can toss an eye on last year’s garden plot full of promise for this growing season. Of course it needs a little help and tender loving care to help it reach its full potential, much like other endeavors we’ve pursued all winter that might need a little springtime tending, namely, any WIP within our reach.
There isn’t a writer on God’s green earth who hasn’t written a few extra words now and then, who doesn’t need to read over her work and do some judicious pruning. And when it comes to the scenes filled with heartfelt angst from characters who finally discover their ah-ha moments, the problem is only exacerbated. What writer in their right mind would stop midstream to start clearing up the clutter and editing the revelations pouring forth from our imaginations like water from a secret stream? Let it flow (!) – we all know how hard it is to come up with a gusher of a brainstorm – and worry about the cleanup later.
Much like pulling out the choking weeds cluttering up our garden rows, there’s a day of reckoning for every WIP, too. Sometimes we put it off as long as possible, but ultimately, the clean-up must be addressed. Personally, I think this is the fun part (of writing, not gardening!). Creating the original draft is not fun for me. Too much noise bangs around in my head and all I can do is spread some ink on paper to silence it.
There’s a huge lack of clarity and purpose in my first draft. I’m not on an intimate basis with my characters yet; my characters and I are holding back essential truths until we can all trust one another. It usually isn’t until the black moment of my rough draft that I realize exactly why the hero or heroine or even the villain has been pushed to the limit of their composure. It’s only then that I recognize the core essential thread of their conflict – that one final translucent strand that has eluded me through the entire journey.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in tune with the GMC of each character for the most part, but it isn’t until they breakdown in front of me and all the other characters, that I understand what makes them the man or woman they are.
Okay, so my garden isn’t as extreme as this, but sometimes trying to find just the right amount of shade or sprinkling of water can drive me nuts over the whole summer. I mean really, growing substantial Bibb lettuce and spaghetti squash is important to me!!
Mulling over the small details is just as necessary for your vegetables as it is to breathe life into your WIP. The impulse to fill the screen with thoughts, the urge to grasp at any and all straws you feel are pertinent to molding of your characters, the desire communicate your feelings through your characters – it’s all necessary to take your 2-dimensional ideas and sculpt them into 3-dimension masterpieces. BUT, just because the gold nuggets of your efforts reside in that rushing stream, it doesn’t mean there isn’t some very careful panning ahead for you.
Only after you run out of breath and read over everything you’ve written will you really be able to see, and extract, the point of what you were saying. Hopefully, you’ve had some time to set aside your emotional, passion-filled creation in order to let the flavors all stew together.
Go back to the first scene and take the arsenal of understanding you’ve accumulated, all the insight to your characters and the plot, and begin to root out the weeds of ideas that have no place in your story.
The concepts that sounded good at the time, but never really gained any firm traction in this particular story. Weed them out, but save them. I hope everyone has a file for misplaced ideas and storylines, either on the computer or in your notebook. Much like weeding out the overage of sprouted seeds in your garden in order to let the most viable vegetable grow and mature, so too must you cut the false start ideas in each scene and paste them into a holding file so the singular, primary concepts and emotions will have room to grow and grab your reader. You are asking your reader to come along for the ride and they trust you to guide them to a satisfying conclusion with all the ends tied up.
The last thing you want to do is leave your reader stranded alongside the road, halfway to the destination, and have them wonder where they are, where they are going, and worst of all, making them wonder why they ever cared about the journey in the first place. Yikes!!
So, think about it. You’ve spent all the cold, dreary winter months creating new and exciting characters, placing them in situations and settings that have held the frigid weather blues at bay. Their antics have made you laugh, made you cry, and upon occasion, driven you crazy. Now’s the time to trim away the fat (oh my goodness, I can work in a plug for springtime dieting, too), paint in a little color and detail to brighten the landscape, and shape your story into a beautiful work well worth its place on the bookshelf.
Hopefully you now want to revise and polish your manuscript or gather your gardening tool and go out and enjoy the sunshine. Either way, leave a comment and you'll be in the drawing for a $10 Amazon gift certificate. Happy springtime!!
Award-winning author, AudraHarders, writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring cowboys who haven't a clue about relationships rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children, and is surrounded by everything conducive to writing about farming, ranching and cowboys at her day job in the county Extension office. She began writing right after her son was born and sold her first book to Steeple Hill Love Inspired mere months before that same son graduated from high school. Surviving those years in-between reminds her God does have her plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor.
Pediatric oncology nurse, Jennifer O’Reilly returns home to Hawk Ridge, Colorado to establish a mountain recreation camp as a safe adventure for children battling cancer. Her path to ownership depends on developing a profitable business plan to convince the bank she can manage not only the camping facility, but the entire Trails’ End Ranch operation.
Generations earlier, one misplayed hand of poker lost part of the family ranch, and Zac Davidson, youngest son and financial genius of the Circle D, wants it back. Intrigued since childhood by the legend of his great grandfather, Zac is the only family member who holds out hope that one day the ranch would become Davidson property again. When the ranch goes on the market, money is no object, only Jennifer O’Reilly stands between him and his dream.
High school sweethearts, Jennifer and Zac have wounded each other, and the scars run deep. Jennifer is forced to reveal a secret she’s protected for twelve years. Will past mistakes jeopardize the future of both of their dreams or give them a second chance?