Monday, October 25, 2010

Building a Novel

            I’ve been a carpenter for over 41 years, and I don’t know how many times people—really intelligent people—have said to me, “I could never do what you do, build buildings. I wouldn’t know where to start.”
            Really, it’s pretty simple. You take one thing and attach another thing to it, then another to that, and another to that, until you’ve put enough things together to have a house, or whatever it is you’re building. Simple! The only secret is that you have to know where to put what, and that’s just a matter of research. When you find out what attaches next and how to attach it, you’re set.
            But, if you don’t know the where and how of it, you’ll be tearing down doors, knocking down walls, and jackhammering out foundations until you get it right.
            That’s just how writing is for me—I can’t get the research right. I’m constantly remodeling chapters, demolishing scenes, moving paragraphs, busting away sentences and selecting different words. I might have a pink carpet and orange walled sentence, but I can’t see it. My rafters might be in upside down, and I know it doesn’t look right but can’t figure out what’s wrong. The mortar of my paragraph might be too watered down, but I have no clue.
            When I run a scene with a faulty foundation by Becky, she sees the problem so I can put in the needed reinforcement. So, this team writing is working out for me. I’m feeling more confident that our novel will survive an editor storm with replacing only a few shingles and pieces of siding.

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