Monday, March 28, 2011

Flowery Writing

Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden 2010
photo by Carol Newman


Thinking about spring and gardens, I looked back at photos of favorite gardens. 

The first photo is of the Kauffman Garden in Kansas City, Mo. It's a small garden, but, as you can see, it is packed with a variety of flowers and colors and features. That streak across the middle is water from a fountain. Walls, walkways, benches, statues, water features, and trees of various sizes divide the area.

 Boston Museum of Fine Art, Spring 2006 - photo by Carol Newman

The next photo was taken in a Japanese garden at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. What a difference! Instead of every space being filled with something, this garden has a large raked sand area with a few boulders.

One garden invites investigation; the other invites contemplation. Which garden is "right"?

These gardens remind me of writing styles. Just as both gardens are enjoyable, various writing styles can work for us as writers. The problem is when we go to extremes. 

Suppose the Kauffman garden was so stuffed and overgrown there was no room to walk or sit, then it would be just a tangle of growth. Or, suppose the Japanese garden had only one large rock, no raked design in the sand, and no background plantings. It would be a bare expanse of nothing.

The same is true of our writing. We want enough adjectives, adverbs, metaphors, similes, settings, characters, and plot points to be interesting. We do not want so much overblown, lengthy, detailed, meaningless description that the reader gives up in exhaustion.

It's partly taste, style, experience, and desired effect.  Is your garden of writing a garden sparse, excessive, or beautifully balanced? 


Pick a piece of your writing at random. Is it a Kauffman-type garden or a Japanese-type garden? Whichever one you decide it is, try re-writing it in the opposite style. Add some flowery flourishes. Or, pare down. Have some fun with it. Go to extremes. 


This recipe from could not be easier or better. Hungry Girl assures there is no yogurt taste. (I love yogurt so even if it did have a yogurt taste, it wouldn't bother me.)

Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cake

One 18.25-oz. box moist-style devil's food cake mix
1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt (such as Fage Total 0%)
1 cup water

Combine cake mix and yogurt in a large bowl. Add 1 cup water. Whisk thoroughly and transfer to a baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Refer to cake mix box for pan size and approximate bake time.

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All Rights Reserved 2011, Carol Newman, There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®