Spring Teaches Us to See

Kate Flora: The way that writers see the world is a subject I return to fairly often, as you faithful readers may have noticed. This is the season that I slip away to the garden as often as I can. I love watching the tiny shoots of green grow taller every day until they become large, lush plants with the promise of flowers ahead. I prowl along the edge of the perennial bed, looking for those tiny volunteers that have escaped and are trying to survive in the grass of the lawn. I dig them up and find them new places to grow.

What do these shoots of green that seem to change overnight teach me? Perhaps about how this is much like the way a book begins. First it is just a tiny idea, and by pondering on it, it gradually grows to become the plot of a book. Like those tiny shoots, a book idea will need attention. It will need to be fertilized with essential questions like: What is this about and why is this book about this particular set of characters? It will need space to grow to it’s full size, in the brain and on the page. It will need the unnecessary ideas to be weeded out so that the plant can grow.

Like a tender plant, a book idea need the author to figure out what the story needs. What will fertilize it. How much water (or perhaps, in an authors case, how much alcohol) will it need to make it grow and achieve its full potential. What kind of research must be done to make the setting, characters, and plot feel authentic to a reader. And as in a successful garden, the plant, like a protagonist or antagonist, will need complimentary plants around it to illuminate it and compliment it. And of course, as in any garden there will be the weeds, roots, rocks, and pests, that will want to thwart successful growth to a mature plant, there will be the obstacles internal and external, and the antagonists, both natural and human, which must be overcome in order for the story to come to a successful conclusion where order is restored to the world.

Finally, like a well-told story that is coming to its conclusion, there is the moment in the garden when that plant has been successfully fertilized, watered, and protected from weeds and insects, and it fulfills its purpose by producing glorious flowers. With the book, that is the moment when the writer types: The End, and sits back with a smile of satisfaction.

Of course, just as in a well-tender garden, plants need to be divided, cut back, or shuffled around to new locations, generally typing: The End is not the end. It is simply the beginning of the next process–revision.

May your words flow and your garden grow!

About MCWriTers

Kate Flora is the author or co-author of fifteen books, including her Joe Burgess police procedural series, her Thea Kozak series, two true crimes, a stand-alone suspense and a memoir, as well as many short stories. Her books have been Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, and Derringer finalists. She’s twice won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction and won the 2015 Public Safety Writers Association award for nonfiction. She divides her time between Maine and Massachusetts. Flora is a former international president of Sisters in Crime.
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3 Responses to Spring Teaches Us to See

  1. Dick Cass says:

    Well done, Kate. I thought I was the only person who rescued those strange volunteers . . . I’m also prone to the stragglers and leftovers at the nursery’s end of season sale.

  2. Thanks for this nice post on this pretty spring morning, Kate. I appreciate your good wishes for all of our in-process words and I love your photos!

  3. John R. Clark says:

    I’ve noticed my fruit trees are tapping their literal fingers in frustration at the monsoon masquerading as spring here in Hartland.

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