The Great Pumpkin Analogy

This post originally aired in October 2011. I thought it was worth resharing.

While perusing the pumpkin “patch” (shelves) at my grocery store last weekend, this one struck me as the roundest, cleanest, most pumpkiny pumpkin of the bunch. In fact, I was so pleased with nature’s work that I considered leaving it alone and letting its bright orange hue be all the decoration I needed.

Original Pumpkin, ala first draft
So pretty. Why would anyone want to mess this up?

That thought lasted about a day. While there was nothing wrong with my pumpkin — some people might say it’s a damned good pumpkin and why on earth would you mess with perfection? — I decided to hack it up, scoop out the messy parts, and polish it into something unique.

Kind of like a novel.

Every writer knows the first draft is just that — a first draft. You need dive in headfirst to separate the solid guts from the gooey bits that are just gunking things up.

Adverbs, passive voice, and extra dialogue tags be gone!

Once you really get into it, you discover writing the novel — or picking the pumpkin — was the easy part. Creating something good enough to present to the world takes loads more time, patience, and knives… er, red pens. If you’re like me, you may be tempted to shove that baby out the front door while the guts are still cooling, but a third, or even fourth, pass is probably necessary.

Did you catch every goopy string? Cut away all the pencil marks? Grab the extra pieces off the floor before the dog ate them? (or text a photo to a friend to make sure it’s really as good as you think?) Because only then is your creation ready to be unleashed to the world.

The masterpiece.

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.


  1. But…the seeds are so tasty when roasted with salt! But you can only eat a few at a time. So I guess they’re the adverbs — better in moderation?

    That, or I’ve just steered this metaphor right off the tracks. I’m good at that…

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