Most professionals follow very stringent methods when writing a novel. Whether they admit it or not, all authors use some form of the synopsis, which generally looks like this:
Act I -- Something Happens
Act II -- More stuff happens ... lots and lots and LOTS OF STUFF happens. While all this stuff is happening, there are several hundred pages of tangents where the author takes unnecessary plot forays into the land of Wouldn't-It-Be-Cool-If X, Y, Z Happened and everyone changed into werewolves/zombies/politicians. Then THE REALLYBIGBADTHING happens and everyone is going to DIEDIEDIEDIE!!!
Act III -- The good guys win.
Then the author, all aglow in the aftermath of this mass of words and events, sends the manuscript to her agent, who carefully reads the story. The agent returns the manuscript with rational comments such as:
Are two hundred pages of Wouldn't-It-Be-Cool-If X, Y, Z Happened really necessary? Might that be a tad overwhelming for the reader? Could we do with fifty pages of Wouldn't-It-Be-Cool-If X, Y, Z Happened? And does everyone really have to change into werewolves/zombies/politicians? If so, why does this happen?
And the author, who hasn't touched the book for two or three weeks, reads the agent's comments, rereads the manuscript, and says, Oh. My.
That is where The Garden is now. Edits. I love them.
This is my absolute favorite part of writing, believe it or not. I am at the phase where I am tweaking the last of the dead weight out of the novel and refining the story into what I want it to be. So I'll be MIA online for a little while.
Be good--and if you can't be good, be good at it.
I'll be back when I'm done.