Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pruning the Excess

 Since we moved into our new house three years ago, RadioMan and I have been talking about taking one of the ginormous locust trees out of our back yard. We loved the trees but hated the mess of them. Plus, one of the trees was way too close to the house for comfort. Yesterday, one of the trees was removed and the other trimmed back. The backyard is a whole other place now. This tree to the right? The tree that left us. :(

It was a great tree - probably 65 feet high. But see those big base limbs? Yeah. There were limbs that big hanging over our house and also over the neighbors roof. And I may or may not have mentioned this a time or twelve but we get serious snow and ice up here on the North Coast. Yeah, that tree was just waiting to cause some damage. So, while I'm sorry to see it go, I'm also relieved because I don't have to worry about it any more.

Once that tree was out of the way, the workers started in on the second tree. The Keeper Tree as we're calling it now. That tree also had some low-hanging limbs, some reaching across to our other neighbor's house. But, it is farther back in the yard and so it doesn't pose a danger to our house...or the neighbor's, really. But still it needed a lot of work. So the crews started pruning.

As I watched them work through the excess I had a light bulb moment. I've been in my edit cave for the past week, working on a new WIP - a WIP that's been requested by an editor. Yay! But I had the feeling all last week that something just wasn't quite right about it. So I did my usual - make it a larger font, change the font and change the font color. Print it out and read away from my computer.

What I found? I'd gotten a little extra-wordy in places. I was describing things into submission instead of focusing on the emotional reactions of my characters, their needs/wants and the story. Because description doesn't make a story. It can add a little balance - if using in proportion to the rest of the book. It can add depth. It can give the reader a sense of time and place. But overusing description - I mean, who really needs a four-page-description of a living room? (No, I didn't go that far, but a few areas were...very overly described.) That can take the reader right out of the book and into...boredom.

So, as the workers were pruning our big, beautiful locust trees, I thought about how I'd pruned the beginning half of the new WIP. How I'd made it better. How I'd changed a few scenes and strengthened a character. And in the end that mess of a tree and that pile of excess that took up our entire side yard and that was stacked up to our windowsills? It looks beautiful and when it blossoms in the spring? It will add the perfect amount of shade to our home...

As for the new WIP, it's shaping up nicely, too, now that I've pruned out the excess.

How about you? Do you enjoy the editing process? Or it is just a necessary evil?