Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Idea Farming—growing your plot #3—The Backyard Garden


Idea Farming—growing your plot #3—The Backyard Garden
This is the third of six blogs on story farming. In this one, I’ll talk about the second farming method—The Backyard Garden (anthologies and/or novella-length pieces).
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WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM TO BRING YOU A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!
I GOT THIS EMAIL ON NOVEMBER 12.
November 12, 2014
Congratulations!
The results of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards have been announced.
Your book has been honored as a "Winner" in the "Fiction: Science Fiction" category:
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Traveler's HOT L: The Time Travelers Resort by C.R. Downing
Koehler Books - 978-1-938467-89-9
Winner: Fiction: Science Fiction
I am very proud, honored, and excited by this! Try it… You’ll like it!
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…
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To segue from containers (short stories) to home gardens (novellas and anthologies), let’s look at one method of plant are classification and how that method fits into the writing analogy. There are many ways to classify plants. One of the most common is herbaceous (soft stems) vs. woody (hard stems).
Herbaceous plants are most common as seasonal color and are heavily represented in color pots and hanging containers. They have a short life—usually one or two years. Their purpose is to project a specific feel in a very defined space. They never get very tall because their stems cannot add additional “wood” to their stems as they grow. Think petunias and green beans.
Woody stems are associated with perennial plants—those that live over two years. These plants do have wood-producing cells in their interiors and are capable, in some species, of growing to considerable height and circumference. Think rose bushes and oak trees.
Herbaceous plants are the short stories of the botanical world. Not from the life span, but because they are limited in size. As a writer of short stories, you learn to “stop when the story is done.” Overwriting in a short story causes the entire plant/story to suffer and ultimately collapse under its own weight.
Some plants present an illusion of herbaceousness. Bonsai specimens are woody plants that have been carefully and judiciously pruned over an extended time to present a miniature version of the plant. This type of short story is ripe for converting into a full-sized version of itself—expanding a short story into a longer piece.
Traveler’s HOT L The Time Traveler’s Resort is filled with examples of short stories, all around or significantly less than 5000 words long, that were bonsai versions of longer stories. Combining the increased length—used to back fill some storyline and expand characterization—with a common theme—time travel in from a unique establishment—provided a perfect storm of stories in the anthology.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Not all short stories are bonsai. The vast majority of them are herbaceous plants. If you try to expand a short story that lacks the woody tissue needed to support the added verbiage, your story will never be what you want it to be, or even what it was before you bloated it.
Oh, my! I got a bit sidetracked—in a good way, I hope—in this blog. Only the paragraph about the development of Traveler’s HOT L addresses the backyard garden portion of the analogy specifically. So…
Instead of heading out to the South Forty in the next blog, I’ll spend time talking about layout, design, and plant selection in your backyard garden.
Next blog: Idea Farming—growing your plot #4—The Backyard Garden (Part II)
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My website is: www.crdowning.com

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