September 13, 2014

House Moving by T. L. Wiens

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.


      1. Great Post, thanks for this excellent comparison. Appreciated the four points for house moving and writing. By the way, did the house settle into its new location?

      2. Oh my gosh, Tammy! I'd rather tackle a novel than move a house. That's amazing!

        But your analogy is very relevant. Especially the part about being ready to make adjustments. A friend told me she had to rewrite the entire beginning of her screenplay a year into working on it. If we want a quality product, though, then yes. That's what we have to do.

        Thanks for the reminder. (Are you going to write an article on moving a house now???)


      3. That was great. I have helped move a building and everything you say is true in both situations. And both are great learning experiences. Awesome analogy.

      4. Followed along through your analogy - wow. Would like to see the end result.
        Thanks for this,

      5. I too like how you carried through on your analogy--a good piece of writing, I also like Bobbi's suggestion that you write another piece on this topic for another audience. A humour piece maybe.

      6. Love this, Tammy. I think you can develop a workshop using this analogy and the wonderful 'mapping'. Great comparisons and wildly true! Good job. I enjoyed it. Hope the transition was good on both counts.

      7. What an excellent comparison. Enjoy you "new" home.

      8. Thanks everyone for the encouragement. Moving this house has in a strange way been an inspiration to get back to the computer and write. Seeing the house go from point a to point b and then becoming part of our home reminded me that it's worth sticking to the job to enjoy the end result. Ah--back to my novel--I know it's going to be a lot longer journey than the house.

      9. What a creative way to think about house moving--and then writing. Your comparison makes so much sense. Thanks--and enjoy your new home.

      10. What a great picture you've painted for us. I just see your comment that the house move has somehow given you inspiration to get back to your writing. Wonderful!



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