This might sound an odd title for a post on writing. However, having spent days moving a house, I see a lot of similarities between writing a novel and moving and renovating a house. (And when I say moving a house, I mean my husband, myself, our children and a family friend moved the house—no professional movers involved.)
1. Mapping out the plot
- Moving a house requires a lot of planning. There are many factors to consider, some that just aren’t run of the mill every day things. Every tree, power line, the width of the road, the material used to build the house, the competency of the builder comes under scrutiny. The list is endless.
- A novel requires very much the same amount of planning. You have to keep characters realistic, situations plausible. There are many obstacles to the author as they manoeuvre their way from start to finish.
2. Be ready for adjustments
- No matter how well you lay out a plan, it doesn’t take much to thwart the efforts. With house moving, there are things like weather, surprises when you lift the house like joists not running where they should. A power line may be lower than thought or the house higher once loaded on the beams.
- Plots are very similar. As the author, you may feel you have the right to manipulate events but sometimes, characters just won’t co-operate. or as you write, the flow takes on a life of its own.
3. This is a marathon, not a dash
- You don’t want to rush a house move. That’s when bad things happen.
- Novels take time. You need to get to know the characters intimately and no relationship is built overnight.
4. End result lies in your attention to detail from foundation to decoration
- There is no step in taking a house from one location and making it a home in another that can be ignored. If you don’t take the time to prepare a proper foundation, the house will collapse. If you take no thought into the way you’ll be using rooms and what you’ll need where, it won’t be a pleasant home.
- A story is the same way. You have to do the legwork to start with a strong foundation. Setting, characters, conflict—they need to be carefully considered. But that isn’t enough. You’ll have to decorate your story with details that paint the picture for the audience.
In the end, I’ve enjoyed the process involved with moving a house. It’s been a good reminder of the steps I need to take to produce good writing. And an even better reminder that hard work pays off in the end whether it’s a book or a home you get to enjoy in the end.