We have a never-ending battle with weeds on our lawn. I seldom find the time to go out there and pull them, and with Eugene's schedule, he hasn't been able to spread the Weed-n-Feed recently. Yesterday, I did manage to get outside while Eugene was with Alex. I trimmed the roses so they weren't blocking the sidewalk, then pulled some nettles. Most of the ones I found were small, at least on the surface. When you look at the root (assuming I managed to get all of it), the root can be much longer than the rest of the plant. It made me think of a couple of ways in which story roots can be much more extensive than the actual story.
All stories require a certain amount of pre-planning, such as characters and plot. Even though I don't formally outline a story before writing it, I do have some ideas of the beginning, ending, and a few points along the way. For science fiction and fantasy, the pre-planning work can be more involved if you also have to create the setting or establish rules of magic. It's not enough just to create the parts specifically mentioned in the story; you have to know the underlying details that make the world realistic. This doesn't mean that you have to know every detail about the history of a location, for instance, but sometimes it can enrich the story. Sometimes it's useful to think about the resources and economy of a setting to make sure the story makes sense. For instance, if you're writing about a top predator such as a dragon, it'll need a large territory to find enough food to support itself. Dragons may seem to be a natural part of a desert, but if the area can't support dragon prey, it can't support a dragon either.
Story roots also make me think of the several drafts a story can go through before reaching the final version. The final draft may not have any traces of the original, but the writer still had to create that first draft before getting to the final one.
The final way in which stories can be like weeds is in the way they multiply. Once I get one idea for a story fleshed out, I'm more likely to come up with a sequel, possibly several of them. Sometimes it can be very hard to tug a beloved set of characters out of my head, even when I need to work on another story.
I think that's about as far as I can push this analogy. I certainly don't want other people thinking of my stories as weeds that need to be removed! :grin: