Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Not What I Envisioned

Post by Kerrie

A few months back I had a post about our brand new NSA (neighborhood supported agriculture) garden that we share with some neighbors. After all the rain and snow we received early on in the season, the garden is finally thriving.

When we first sowed the seeds and planted the fragile seedlings, I wanted to do something to protect the plants from harmful insects without using pesticides. I read somewhere that marigolds can deter unwanted insects.

I liked this idea. I envisioned a border of cute, 6" marigold all the way around the garden bursting with yellows and oranges. I happened to have a packet of seeds laying around that I had gotten in some box of cereal. Perfect. I planted the seeds and smiled. This was going to be the best garden ever.

As the summer went on, the garden began to flourish and the border of marigolds was joining in the fun. But instead of stopping at a cute 6" height, the marigolds kept growing and growing and growing (and no flowers yet). My husband kept asking if I was sure I planted marigolds.
"Yes, I am sure they were." I kept insisting.

When they hit about the 2 foot mark something had to be done. They were starting to shield the sun from the peppers and onions. I wasn't worried about the pumpkins and cucumbers because they are strong viney plants with an attitude--they can take care of themselves. But I had to save the rest of the veggies. So I pulled out some of the marigolds and replanted them somewhere else in the yard where they wouldn't bully any small fragile plants. So much for my original garden vision.

Has this ever happened with your writing? You have a vision of where you want your story or article to go, but somewhere along the way something goes wrong. You take your characters on a bunny trail, or you include unnecessary information or you put some bizarre twist in the middle of your story that makes no sense.

I know I have done it and I am sure most writers have as well. What do you do to fix this when it happens? Do you have any outrageous examples of a time this happened to you?

What did I learn from all this? Things don't always go as planned and never trust seeds from a cereal box.



KC Frantzen said...

Marigolds are fabulous for this.

We did plant ours around the border but left plenty of room. Nice thing about it is, all those flower petals end up as the seeds. Let them dry and you'll see. I bought 2 packets of seeds the first year and got hundreds if not thousands of seeds from them... bags and bags of them.

Sort of what can happen when your story goes wild! ha!

When mine takes a turn, I usually catch it when reading the chapter aloud. I'm a fairly ruthless editor of my own work though. If there is a sentence or several I especially love that are going to be cut, I paste them to a .doc where they live until needed later, if ever.

At least that way I feel like they're not completely wasted!!!

Patricia Stoltey said...

That's what my trusty red pen is for. I start through a manuscript and do a slash and burn on everything that doesn't belong. In my first mystery, it was all those kid memories of growing up on the farm in Illinois (the setting for most of the novel). My nostalgic rambling, which I attributed to my main character when she was supposed to be snooping someplace she didn't belong, slowed the pacing and had nothing to do with my story.


Kerrie said...

KC, I like the idea of saving the cut parts so you don't feel like your words are gone forever.

Pat, I prefer a purple pen. :-)

tuxgirl said...

Ooh!!! I have this problem!!!

It's my first time trying to write something a bit on the longer end, and I keep running into problems with my characters. It all started when I found myself staring at this character who wasn't even supposed to exist, but was worming his way in, trying to be a major character. Then he had to go and mess up my plot, and now my story's going a completely different direction from where I wanted it to go, and I don't know how to fix it.

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