Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sticks In The Air

There's a new home being built in my neighborhood, and my dog, Mary, and I have been walking by it for several weeks now. My dad was a builder and taught me everything I know about the building process. There's a lot that takes place before you get to this point in the process, when you actually can see 'sticks in the air.' For weeks, all we've been seeing is a hole in the ground, and then, suddenly, we're at the stage. 

Writing a novel is a lot like building a house. There's a lot of work that has to be done before you can begin to build the story. You have to create a solid foundation, plan where the high points will be and lay the groundwork. Only after you carefully lay out your plan can you start putting your sticks in the air without fear of having them collapse and fail. Consider them the plot points of your story. Once your plot is all good and solid, you can start adding things to make the work unique and the story line different from every other book out there. And only once the story line is running smoothly can you embellish the work with the elements that make it special. It all comes down to having a good plan before you turn over that first shovel of dirt. Or, in the case of a manuscript, before you write that first line.

I'm working right now on the final book in my Revolutionary War series. One of the things I especially love about writing historical novels is having the ability to plop my characters into the middle of chaos to see how they rise above it. For me, in order for a book to be considered a historical novel, especially in romance, is to use actual events as an integral part of the story. But that means I spend a lot of time building my foundation. I need to make certain I have the correct dates, the correct location, and in the case of the Revolutionary War, the right generals in charge. If I don't have a proper foundation for my story, I should not be surprised when the sticks begin to fall over. 
Mary and I will keep track of this house, now that the sticks are in the air. We'll watch as all the walls get framed out. Maybe we'll even sneak inside and try to determine the layout. Then, we'll watch as the pretty elements start to come in and the home gets a personality. Hopefully, my manuscript will proceed at the same rate, and develops a personality as well. 

Stay safe and write, everyone. You don't need to write a novel, but in these troubling times, a journal or a letter to a loved one will keep at least some of the panic you're feeling at bay. Stay strong. 

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