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8 Reasons to Let Your Stories Ripen

8 Reasons to Let Your Stories Ripen

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Published by K.M. Weiland
Like vine-ripened tomatoes, stories require the slow nourishment of sunlight and warm imaginative soil to grow into rosy, juicy maturity.
Like vine-ripened tomatoes, stories require the slow nourishment of sunlight and warm imaginative soil to grow into rosy, juicy maturity.

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Published by: K.M. Weiland on Dec 13, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/12/2014

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Whenever we come up with a wonderful new story idea, it’s tempting toimmediately sit down at the keyboard and start bringing it to life on thepage. But that’s rarely the best way to turn that sparkling new idea into aworthwhile and enduring story. In his book
How to Write Science Fiction &Fantasy 
, Orson Scott Card admits:Good stories don’t come from trying to write a story the moment Ithink of the first idea. …all the stories I was still proud of sixmonths after writing them have come from ideas that ripened formany months—usually years—between the time I first thought of them and the time they were ready to put into a story.Like vine-ripened tomatoes, stories require the slow nourishment of sunlightand warm imaginative soil to grow into rosy, juicy maturity. Otherwise, theyrisk suffering from the blight of the following pitfalls:1. Meandering plot.2. Two-dimensional characters.3. Shallow themes.4. Underdeveloped/nonexistent subplots.5. Weak climax.Writing up sparkly new ideas is like falling in love at first sight and gettingmarried the next day. You
might 
live happily ever after. But chances are good
9 Reasons to Let Your Stories Ripen
www.wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.comwww.kmweiland.com
 
that, after a little more time has passed, you’ll realize that you really don’tknow this story so well at all. In fact, at times, it will feel like a totalstranger, and you’ll begin wondering what in tarnation you’ve gotten yourself into. It takes time and breathing space for us to figure out which ideas areworth committing to for the long haul. I’ve fallen in love at first sight withmany ideas that eventually proved they didn’t have the depth or stayingpower to support a long-term relationship.Stories aren’t the only victims when we pull them off the vine before they’veripened. We suffer as well by1. Losing our passion for a story2. Realizing we’ve wasted our time3. And developing the habit of skipping from one new idea to the nextwithout ever finishing a draft.As a caveat, let me throw out the fact that, for some authors, the only way toripen a story is to fool around with it on paper. For me, putting a story onpaper—even in the roughest of outlines—risks ruining the heady organic ebband flow of my imagination. I prefer to leave my ideas in the greenhouse of my subconscious, pulling them out and pruning them from time to time, untilI feel they’re ready. (Margaret Atwood once said that “you may be wrongabout being ready, but you’re rarely wrong about being not ready.”) However,if this feels all wrong to you on a gut level, don’t be afraid of acknowledgingthat your initial ramblings on paper may indeed constitute a ripening periodof your own. Orson Scott Card again:For some writers, one of the best ways to help an idea ripen is totry writing a draft of it, seeing what comes up when you actuallytry to make it into a story. As long as you recognize that the draftyou write immediately after thinking of the idea will almostcertainly have to be thrown away and rewritten from thebeginning, you’ll be fine.Either way, don’t be in a hurry to write down that brand new idea. Let it ripen,and you may be surprised at the full, mature flavor you’re able to reap a yearor so into the growing season.

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