Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tending Your Story Garden -Guest Post from Lauri Fortino

Please welcome the winner of the OA TBR contest! Lauri Fortino opted for the guest post prize, so here it is:

Tending Your Story Garden

By Lauri Fortino

Before you can harvest your vegetables, you must plant the seeds, water the seedlings, nourish the soil, and have patience. Without tending, your garden will wither and die. Stories are gardens grown from the seeds of ideas, watered with love, and nourished with knowledge. Just like a vegetable garden, your story garden must be tended so that, in time, it will fill up with a cornucopia of plump and tasty tales.

Every story starts with an idea seed that has formed in our minds. When we choose to take that idea and put it down on paper or computer screen, we’ve planted the seed that has the potential to bloom into a beautiful story.

Each story is a garden of its own that began as an idea seed, or more likely, multiple seeds from which tiny seedlings, or idea-lings, have sprung forth. Once the idea-lings have sprouted, it’s time to nurture them. If we don’t, our story will never come to fruition.

  1. Water with love. If you don’t believe in your story, it will show in your writing, which will be flat and lifeless. Most likely, you will abandon it and it will wither away. Always begin with an idea that excites you, then you’ll shower your story with your heart and soul and it will flourish. 
  2. Nourish with knowledge. Just as gardeners use hoes, rakes, and fertilizer to tend their gardens, writers should arm themselves with the right tools. I don’t mean paper, pencils, and laptops. No matter what kind of story you write, or what audience you’re writing for, boost your writing skills through education, research, and practice. If you polish your skills, your story will shine. 
  3. Weed with purpose. In a garden, weeds can spread quickly. They take over and suffocate the crops. Stories can have weeds too. Too much description, unnecessary words, passive voice, poor pacing, bland dialogue, and a thin plot are weeds that overshadow and choke out your characters, action, and theme, all the things that give life to your story . Once you’ve completed your first draft, go back and edit it. Weed out everything that bogs your story down and keeps it from blossoming.

Self-doubt is the worst weed of all. It’s a force as destructive to your story as a hail storm is to a fragile flower garden. We all hear that negative voice coming from deep inside that tells us our writing is not good enough. Grab hold of it and yank it out by the roots. If you write about things that interest you, practice your writing skills, edit your work, and persevere, your stories will be better than just good enough; they’ll be dazzling, just like that prize-winning giant pumpkin at the county fair.

Lauri Fortino is the author of the children’s picture book The Peddler’s Bed. She doesn’t garden, but she was a floral designer for ten years before starting her writing career. She also works at her local public library and is often the first person to take home all of the new picture books. She enjoys spending time with her husband Chris and their dog Java at their home in Syracuse, NY. Visit Lauri on her blog Frog on a [B]log or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Frog on a Blog: 


Lauri Fortino said...

Thanks for having me, OA! :)

Norah said...

What a great analogy for writing, Lauri. I guess pulling the weeds is like Stephen King saying to "Kill your darlings". I like weeding better! But killing suits his genre. :)

Lauri Fortino said...

Thanks, Norah! Pulling out the unnecessary stuff is one of the hardest things to do, especially if you particularly like what you wrote.