Renovating Your Book

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

My husband and I spent ours working on our basement. Thank heavens my husband is a very handy guy because we have spent the last several months finishing our basement. It has been a long arduous task involving framing, insulating, dry walling, tiling and painting. After a long weekend of sanding and painting, my back is locked up tighter than Fort Knox and, sadly, I’m only halfway done painting the doors, windows and trim moldings.

As I labored away yesterday, it dawned on me how many parallels there are between building something and the writing process. Whether you’re finishing a basement, building a skyscraper or writing a novel it’s always important to start with a strong framework. Without a solid foundation your building or your story will fall apart.

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Next you run the wiring and plumbing, which is kind of like weaving together the plot threads that drive your story forward. This is what makes your reader turn the page. If you fail to tie all of the plumbing together you turn on a faucet and nothing happens. Or you run all of the electrical lines, but forget to tie them into the junction box, so when you flip the light switch, no lights come on. This can also happen in a story when an author has lots of great story elements but forgets to tie them together so the reader knows what is going on and why it’s important.

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Next comes walls. Just as you have to watch out for bows and seams when hanging and taping drywall, you have to be careful as you layer one event on top of another in building your plot. If you aren’t, you could wind up with a story full of inconsistencies, elements that don’t make sense or a sagging middle that doesn’t encourage a reader to keep turning pages.

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Once your structure is complete, it’s time to add the finishing touches like paint, tile and carpet to tie the space together and make it inviting. In much the same way, rewrites and edits tie your scenes together and give your story seamless flow. This is the place I’m at now, both in the manuscript I’m working on and my basement. I’ll let you know how it goes!