Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Remodeling and Writing

I spent the summer remodeling my basement--and my WIP. I got frustrated with both. Hard to believe, I know, but there you have it. I wanted it all to be done. Fast.

Here are some lessons I've learned from remodeling that I'm using in my writing.

1: You need a plan, and it helps to write it down.
This one seems obvious, but sometimes I slack on the outlining. I just write and then wonder why my scene didn't accomplish everything it needed to. Yup, I'm that kind of brilliant.

2: It takes time.
Again this seems so obvious, but who wouldn't want both the remodeling and the writing to be done like so much magic? Poof.

3: You have to do things in layers. What kind of layers? Well, there is the layer no on ever sees, you know the stuff that goes behind the walls, 2x4s, wires, pipes, and insulation and stuff. Writing has this, too. Gobs of it. Back history, research, characterization, hours and hours of work that no one ever sees when they read your book. It's all behind the scenes, but it makes the book work like plumbing and wires.

Then there is the dry wall layer with all it's mudding and tapping. Even that is done in layers. Several of them. You mud, then let it dry. Then you sand. Then you clean up. Then you mud, and let it dry, and sand, and repeat several times until all the flaws are gone. It's messy, and detail oriented, and my least favorite part. But just like in remodeling, you have to do the rewrites and the edits. All of them, until the flaws are gone. If you don't, those flaws will show through later, and that's what people will see.

The next layer is paint. It's my favorite. You take this ugly mess that's starting to look like a room and you add color and personality. It's like you put a permanent polish on the room. Paint protects, it adds life, and it means you're almost done. In writing this is like the final polish draft, and it makes your work shine like hi-gloss enamel. Yup, my favorite.

Then you add carpet, trim, and hardware-all the finishing touches, even pictures and furniture. To me, this is the part in writing I haven't experienced yet. This is the publishing part. The part where you dress it all up and present it to the world in a shiny jacket with cool cover art. Yup, I'm still dreaming of this one, but just like with remodeling, I'm putting in the time, so hopefully it will pay off.

And 4: It helps if you work with professionals. They know what they're doing. You can do it all yourself, but if you don't know anything about electricity, you might get burned.

Same thing with your writing.

Anywho, I think I'll go work on my layers. Time to mud and tape some scenes together.



  1. Leisha, love the analogy! So playing in mud is required?

  2. LOVE the parrallels you drew between the two . . . Keep working!

  3. I like the idea of working with professionals. Sometimes they see things in a way you never thought of before (both with writing and electricity). Great analogy!

  4. Jonene, thanks. And yes, playing in mud is required. Go get dirty.

    Dancing Queen, thanks. I'm in this too deep to quit. :)

  5. Susan, I like working with pros, too. Especially if I might die if I don't. He he.

  6. Wonderful analogy! And I like to think about how I never knew what was under the paint, carpet, and trim until I ripped it all off and got a look at the bare bones.
    Now I can never look at a house in quite the same way. I can enjoy it on a deeper level, appreciating all the love that goes into the final product.

  7. I loved how you brought in the idea of layers -- it is so true, and that's something you can really flesh out during revisions. Awesome!


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