Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The Analogy of Novel Writing to House Building
I've never built a house, but I know the basics needed for doing so. Obviously, one starts with a foundation. This involves ground preparation, being sure you have adequate drainage, etc. Frames must be carefully constructed, wallboard added, then walls, windows, ceilings, and roof--all the while doing the other things that make a building a house, such as putting in the wiring and plumbing and eaves and the exterior and the roof. The point is there is a lot of planning in building a house.
Same thing is true with writing a novel. Just as an architect has a vision prior to building a house, so too does a writing in crafting a novel. The builder takes plans from an architect and makes plans for his building This is also true with a novelist, who moves his "vision" into actuality by planning his story, all the while working from his vision--and a vision not just from his plot but also (and especially) from his characters. The basic story line is his foundation, the time and place is his floor, the walls his scenes, the windows the point of view (POV) of each of his characters (if he's writing omnisciently) or one huge window (if he's writing from a single person's POV). The dialgoue is the entire atmosphere and feel of the house (are you comfortable with it? does it change from room to room?) and the entire story culminates in a climax (or roof of the house), so that the ending satisfies the authors (ie., the look of the house pleases the builder) and hopefully, the entire book will satisfy a reader (ie, the house will find a buyer who loves it).
When I'm doing a book signing, someone eventually comes up to me and tells me she has a great idea for a novel and is enthusiastic about it...but has never written it. That's sad because ideas that stay in your head don't make a novelist, just as an idea for a house doesn't make an architect. Write a novel because you absolutely MUST write it. It's the same thing with mountain climbers They climb the mountain because the MUST climb it
I always tell my friends that "writing a novel is the ultimate trip." Vacations are great, but writing novels that spill out the inner workings of your soul are even greater.