Monday, September 27, 2010

So where's the bathroom?

The main character’s house has become an issue in our story. We haven’t given enormous detail about the floor plan and furnishings, primarily because I find description of that sort mind-blowingly dull to read, so we’re trying not to write that way. I mean, PLEASE don’t spend three paragraphs describing the grandmother’s chenille bedspread unless it moves the story forward.
Recently we discovered that there is, after all, a critical need to describe the layout of our protagonist’s house. A bad guy shot at the good guy through the living room picture window. I wrote about the bad guy’s position with the high-powered rifle on a hill behind the house. Larry said, “It can’t happen that way,” and proceeded to explain why not, complete with a diagram of the house and street.
First of all, the diagram of Larry’s imaginary house did not match the one I had in my head. The living room can’t be at the end of the house, because we have a scene where somebody sneaks from one end of the house and through the living room on the way to the second bathroom.
We settled that by adding a bedroom and bathroom to the drawing. Then Larry said, “Okay, the shooter can’t be behind the house, because…” and refers back to the diagram.
Forced to rely on my drawing “skill”, I pulled out a sheet of clean paper and drew a crooked rectangle with hash lines to indicate rooms, a large picture window, and most importantly, the location of the recliner and television, which are critical to the scene.
Finally, after MUCH discussion and a few more alterations to the floor plan, we concluded that we were both wrong. For things to happen like we said they did, the shooting scene had to be heavily edited. We kept my new house rendering and Larry’s shooting position out front. We also have to back track a chapter and fix our lead up to the shooting.
Up until this conversation, I considered the floor plan overkill and chose not to quibble about the details. Did we really need to agonize over every aspect of each room in the house?
I maintain the answer to that is no, that we didn’t need to agonize over every single detail—until the house itself became a character.

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