Building Your Story

In the September 2014 issue of RWA, my romance writer’s report from my writing organization, there is a great article written by Elizabeth Harmon called Home Improvement.
You are probably thinking what does home improvement have to do with my writing, but in the article she states that building a novel is similar to building a house.  Creating rooms, décor, landscape and fixtures you want with your house is the same type of mind frame you think about when creating your novel; your characters, setting, theme, plot, dialogue, etc.
When preparing for the house that you want to build, you have to form a blueprint or a floor plan.  Similarly, when creating your next literary work of art, you need to sit down and decide what you are going to write – genre, setting, plot and establishing your characters.  When you have an outline or a checklist, it keeps you on track with the details of how you want to start your next novel.  Changes can always be made but you will have an understanding of what direction you want to go in your next book.
When building a house, you create a framework or a foundation so the house can be built strong and secure.  When writing a story, your first draft becomes that framework.  Whether you focus on creating the plot and letting the characters come into existence or creating your characters and letting them see where the story takes you, both ideas set the foundation.  Don’t hold back.  Revision will always be necessary so it’s important to get everything down on paper so you can have a vision of how your story will ultimately turn out.
The interior of your house is created with excitement because you can’t wait to see the finished product.  This would resemble your second draft.  You have allowed yourself to take a breather from your work so when you approach it, you have a renewed outlook to your story and look at it in a different light.  This will give you an opportunity to check on the flow of your story, to see if there are no discrepancies or redundancy to your character’s actions or personalities.  You can check grammar, spelling and verbose dialogue.  This will give you the opportunity to look at the “guts” of your story and fix anything you deem fit to complete the construction of your novel.
When your house is complete and you are excited to choose your décor so you can enjoy your newly built house, the third draft serves the same purpose in your writing.  The last look, gives you the opportunity to make the finishing touches to ensure that the story flows smoothly with the climax that leads to any answers that were left in question.  Read your draft as if your reader is experiencing your work.  Maybe you can have someone read over your work to get a different opinion or viewpoint.
Finally, you have finished your house and you can enjoy all the comforts you desire.  With your completed novel, you now have the opportunity to submit it to a publisher, self-publish if that is what you intend or hand it to your agent as a finished and successful piece of work.
The article by Elizabeth Harmon was enlightening and when you’re a solitary writer, sometimes you don’t realize how connected you are to the outside world.  Writing encompasses more than you think.
Jennifer Andrew
Freelance Writer and Book Reviewer
Follow me on twitter at femmevip


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