Composting 101

Symptoms Problem Solutions
Story has unpleasant odor. Not enough air due to overwrought word choice or compaction.

If there is an odor of ammonia, too much pure crap is standing in the way of the real story.

Strip the pile of its dense, soggy materials and replace with crisp, crackling prose to soak up excess bulls#!t.

Turn the pile, add fresh material, and move narrative elements around to aerate.

Cover pile (put in drawer to rest) until inclement weather subsides.

Story is rich and warm only in the center. Failure to build heat/tension. Pile is too small. Narrative elements are missing.

Insufficient conflict.

Not enough air. See first symptom.

Lack of nitrogen. Rich material is superficial. Go deeper.

Make pile bigger. Identify missing narrative elements.

Add water by sticking a garden hose into the center in several locations.

Turn the pile to aerate narrative elements.

Mix in nitrogen, otherwise known as conflict.

Add or remove backstory.

Toss and start over!!!!

Story temperature exceeds 160°F. Not enough air, lack of carbon, prose is turning purple. Turn the pile to aerate.

Mix in 2 parts Hemingway for every one part bad Faulkner.

Large, undecomposed items remain in the story even after considerable time has passed. Ya got some clunkers there. Read to friends and remove sections that make them grimace.

Shred clunkers before adding new material.

In the middle of the night, rodents, coyotes, and raccoons lurk in the shadows near the story, waiting for a chance to raid the juicy bits. Your prose is attracting aggressive nocturnal elements. This is usually a sign that the writing is going well. Animal-proof your work area only if this bothers you.

 

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5 Comments

Filed under Craft

5 responses to “Composting 101

  1. Pingback: Clicks are Being Formed | Dear Writers

  2. I agree with Samir!. This is some great sh*t, Jill! I love the bit about animal-proofing your story.

Bark back!

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