Why Carving a Pumpkin is Like Revising a Story

Fall, that time of year when leaves are changing and sweaters are being pulled out from closets. It’s also time for Halloween, costumes, and turning regular old pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns.

I like to think of pumpkins like a first draft of a story. They’re fine. They’re complete. They’re pretty solid. From the outside, at least.

pumpkin-1

But, if you were to cut that pumpkin open, you’d find a gooey mess inside, carefully hidden under that solid veneer.

That’s what you need to revise. You need to scoop out the messy stuff, using a spoon, a knife, even your fingernails when it comes down to those last stubborn bits of orange goo that cling so tightly to the sides you think you’ll never get them out. You toss it all into a bowl and assess the situation.

pumpkin-guts2

You separate the orange goo from the seeds, those inklings and good ideas to make use of later. You cover them in salt and bake them in the oven and turn them into something worth keeping by giving them a little attention.

Next, you need to…plot…I mean plan. This is when you need to look at the whole story. Look at the pumpkin from the outside. What face is it calling for? What shapes lend themselves to its curves? What needs to happen next to bring it to life?

Start carving away. Cut away the unnecessary bits. Refine the story. Maybe the face begins to take shape, and you realize you don’t need that extra tooth because it’ll be overwhelming or that the eyes should be triangles instead of circles because they fit the character better. You slowly learn what the story needs and how it’s going to appear to your reader.

pumpkin-2

After you’ve got the face cut out, you go back in and refine. You level out where the smile isn’t quite even. You make sure those triangle eyes are the same size. You look at the little details to make sure it all comes together evenly.

Finally, put a small candle inside and close the lid. Watch as the pumpkin takes on a face of it’s own and comes alive, polished and full of the heart you put into it.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Why Carving a Pumpkin is Like Revising a Story

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