Worldbuilding Wednesday: Story Gardening

Last updated on April 10, 2012

We’re gardeners, we writers are. We introduce characters that poke up their personalities like tender green shoots from fertile wood pulp (or pixels). Expose them to sunlight and watch them slowly reveal more and more of their makeup. Pelt them with water droplets and find the tensile strength and the adaptability of the leaves they stretch towards the sun.

Your story is a garden. In the structure of story, there are seasons–sowing, pruning, harvesting. In the beginning of the story, we sow the seeds of conflict with crop diversity–placing disparate seeds together in one furrow. As they duke it out, though, we see like the Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash), the biodiversity actually strengthens each plant.

We pay special attention to the soil conditions and climate of setting–the right setting will allow our seeds to flourish to their full potential, while the wrong setting leaves us with weak, struggling plot vines that may never climb high enough to flower and fruit.

We weed and prune our story garden both within and outside the story itself. Within the story, antagonists seek to subvert the garden of story for their own purposes, cutting off or bleeding dry our character-crops in service to their own ends. As gardener-storytellers, we weed out unnecessary words and scenes, prune plot-vines that refuse to grow where we guide them, and feed the ones that do.

And when we harvest, we present fully actualized characters that have completed an arc of growth along a vine of intriguing story, containing all the nutrients of compelling setting, the tensile strength of well-thought plot, and the rich flavor of riveting interplay between the interconnected web of crop and predator.

What seeds have you planted today? Have you weeded and pruned? Are you ready to harvest?


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Athena Grayson Written by:

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  1. April 12, 2012

    I like the imagery here, Athena. Struggling plot vines. Nice post. The only things I’ve planted recently, in the writing garden, have been blog beans. My poor story garden is suffering because of the real weeds that have sprung up in my home gardens.Peas will be going into the real garden in the next couple of weeks. If you’ve never had fresh peas off the vine, you’re missing a real treat.
    Catherine Hershberger, writing as Catherine Castle

  2. Johnsie Aguillera
    May 23, 2012

    I’m glad someone else thinks the same way I do about this.

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