|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.
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.|