Monday, April 18, 2011


“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow…?”

I’m not sure how all Mary’s silver bells, and cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row are doing but I can’t seem to find mine—garden, that is. I wonder if Mary would mind if I borrowed a few of her maids? Surely they know how to weed?

We’ve had a lot of rain of late. The yard has gone from the dead straw color of winter to green, lots of green. Holy cow, no wonder I can’t keep up with the weeds in my garden areas.

I do have a very nice and lush group of weeds though. Very pretty, and some even flower—except they are destroying the theme I’ve designed for each garden. Not to mention interfering with new spring plants and bulbs I need to  put in..

So I’ve been weeding. I have bulbs to plant, dammit. Then comes the problem of certain things that are supposed to be coming up now and it’s hard to tell if they are flowers or weeds. I almost uprooted some Lilies—these look like a type of grass when they first come up. I literally pulled about dozen marigolds before I realized it wasn’t the daisy weed like thing (I think its part of the ragwort family) I thought it was. They look very similar to each other when two inches tall. Fortunately, the soil was wet enough it didn’t hurt the marigolds and I was able to replant them.

I got to thinking, while I was weeding, how it reminds me of editing. I know, I’ll admit I’m strange and my mind even stranger in it’s leaps and bounds.

There are times the writing mood, zone, or whatever you want to call it, hits me like rain on dry ground. There’s thunder and lightning in my head and the ideas and story comes in like a downpour. At those times I can produce several thousand words in one sitting and a few hours.

The words are good. Just like many *weeds* are good. But some of them hinder rather than enhance the theme of the story. When that happens, you have to weed out the unnecessary words. The difference between weeding my garden and my manuscript is most of the garden weeds I throw away. Not so with my word weeds. Those are stored in a file because you never know when they might need to be *replanted* or used in another area.

I have good tools to help me with weeding the garden. I also have tools to help me with weeding my manuscript. Dictionaries, because the computer doesn’t always recognize certain words, much less if they’re spelled correctly. I also have a manuscript analyzer, which helps with things like repetitive words and phrases. I also have one which I need to locate on my database again that will tell me if my manuscript is too *feminine* in the use of words. In other words it can suggest whether a man or a woman wrote it based on word usage.

I have two signs hanging in my office. One says, “Write What You Feel” speaking of emotion, the other says, “Keep the details to the Now of the story” to remind me about backstory.

  • So how does your *garden* grow?
What tools do you use in weeding your manuscript?
  • Do you indiscriminately yank or do you have an editing system?


Houston A.W. Knight said...

Hey Sweetie!

I edit and cut as I write. Keeping everything in the now and as tight to the main story as possible.

When I use the word 'IT' I'll always replace it by naming it. A Flower is a rose, a car is a BMW, a man is...well the sexiest hunk of maleness I've every get the idea.

I cut out most of the filler words - 'that, like, as if, was' these words can fill up a page and say nothing.

I cut out anything (even if I like it) that doesn't pertain to the main plot and moving the story forward.
The reader doesn't need to know there were four men at table A and Mary and Sue are at table B and the waitress had pink hair and loved metal rock...IF the four men at table A aren't involved in the plot and you've named Mary and Sue only to show the heroine knows everyone in town by name, but neither girl shows up again in the story... WEED THEM OUT! The Reader doesn't need to know more than the restaurant was full and the waitress had pink hair and the sound of metal rock was playing in the background.

I could go on but...I've got to get to writing! ;-)


Tonya Kappes said...

Oh my...I have lots of weeds, but I like to think they have beautiful flowers on them. I write over 2-3k words each day and I don't use any weed killer~When I finish the book, I go back and edit chapter by chapter and then I put on my Orkin hat.

Jo said...

Even a blog has to be edited. Not that I do a great job, but I try. I am pleased to say I don't have a garden weed any more, always a job I hated. I once had a gardener and that was much the better way to go.

Kat Sheridan said...

I love your analogy of "word weeds"! I end up with lots of them. And like you, everything I root out goes in a file instead of the compost heap. You never know when they might suddenly bloom!

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of pulling weeds from a neighbor's flower bed as a young girl, so I could buy socks for school.

Beautiful job, too, by the way.

Barbara Robinson

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you, Barbara. As many weeds as I have, I could supply a year's worth of socks, lolol!

We won't even go into my *word weeds.*

~Sia McKye~ said...

Absolutely, Kat! I learned that the hard way, lol!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hawk, that's the hard part, pulling scenes out of a manuscript you like. I do try to see if there is a way to use the scene, or something similar, later. If not, hey, I can entertain readers with out takes, right?

VA said...

I yank, but save all new edits under a sequentially progressive numbering system. I learned that trick doing boilerplate editing in the Marketing department. Never know when everyone's gonna think #18 really was the winner even though you're on #56 now.

Tragic, but in the end I have Frankenstein's monster begging me to make him a mate 'cause he's so hideous no one will talk to him. *SIGH--that pretty much sums up my crap technique. Which probably explains why I abandon them at the nearest rest stop.

Houston A.W. Knight said...

Hey Sia!

The hardest thing is spotting the scene/paragrapgh/sentences or pages that really aren't needed. As the writer you put them in (of course thinking they're important)'s usually not until your CP tells you it isn't important to the forward movement of the story that you learn to spot the filler scenes that HAVE TO BE CUT.

I agree sometime we write a scene for one spot and it really is better in another area of the MS.

LOL...out takes...I never thought of that but it could be a great blog day...and with your humor attached I'm sure you'd entertain us with each out take! I'm back to cutting, chopping and mincing...and no I'm not cooking...I editing yesterdays work.

LOL Hawk

walk2write said...

I could use that manuscript analyzer. I do find myself repeating words even when I blog. And it's not always easy to spot those invasive "plants" (how do they get in there?) until it's too late and they've taken over.

Love your garden analogy. It's right up my alley:)

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