While in church on a recent Sunday, I listened to the words said by an assistant pastor. They reminded me of the well intentioned, ambitious but bloated YA manuscript that I’d been critiquing for the last month. When I’m in critique mode, almost anything can become an analogy.

Each spring bountiful wisteria clusters hung from the maple and oak trees in the assistant pastor’s back yard, she said. Its pungent fragrance permeated the air. Its copious purple flowers and vines cascaded from each branch of her trees.

While she loved the fragrance and beauty of the wisteria, she reminded herself that if she left it alone to grow as it wished, she would be allowing what should be a beautiful spring event become a year-long detriment to everything in her yard.The wisteria would smother every leaf and branch of every tree. Their vines would crawl across her lawn, choking every blade of grass and even threatening to climb up the walls of her house.

The pastor went on to warn us that our own thoughts, if not tended as carefully as the unruly wisteria, would let us meander down the wrong paths, and cause us to tumble into sin, death, hell, etc. etc.

At about that time my thoughts meandered toward writing. Our words may be the most beautiful, picturesque, and evocative when they tumble from our minds onto the page and onto the next page and the next. Our words are so powerful! They are mesmerizing! The more we write, the more they enhance the story. Don’t they?

Like rambunctious wisteria (or kudu), over-abundant words left to procreate will crowd out the essential words that work best to form characterization, setting, plot, conflict, voice, point of view and every other literary element that makes a story memorable.

We are the master and mistress gardeners. Prune more. Sin less.