Renovations and the Story Process

- by Nancy Cohen

We are undergoing the turmoil of a kitchen renovation, and while our house is in an uproar, I couldn’t help comparing the renovation to the writing process.

The stages for both are very similar: Design, Teardown, Rebuild.

At the start, you design the new parameters of your kitchen with measurements and schematics.

Such is the way you begin your novel. Character development sheets may be the basis for what follows. Next comes the plot, whether a vague idea, a detailed outline, or a brief synopsis. Without these tools, the design won’t flourish. You’ll form a concept in your mind of how the finished product should look, but beware of surprises along the way.

Next comes the tear down. Your cabinets and countertops are torn out; your appliances moved into the garage. Empty walls face your expectant gaze. Such is the way you look at the computer screen every morning. A blank page awaits, and what you fill in may be different than what you conceived. Pieces of the whole start coming together. In writing, these are your chapters. In a kitchen, first the cabinets are installed. Next comes the granite, and then the electrician, plumber, tile worker, and painter. The puzzle fits together just as in your story. There may be moments of pain, when things don’t go right, but you overcome them.

By the time you’re finished, things may look different than you expected. The story changes from what you wrote in the synopsis. The kitchen cabinets aren’t quite the color or size you thought they’d be. Instead of the bifold doors on your pantry that you envisioned, the new doors are actually four panels that have to be opened with four sets of knobs. So even though you’re following the overall design for the kitchen, it doesn’t turn out the way you anticipated. Change is inevitable. So it is with your story. Often what you write is different than what you outlined. If something doesn’t work out, you can modify it in revisions. Same goes for the kitchen. You don’t like that pull out garbage can space? Change it back to a regular cabinet. Finally, your masterpiece is done, whether it’s a new book or a new kitchen. Enjoy.


  1. I need to do something to my kitchen, someday I will, but not looking forward to all involved. Only want the end result. :)

  2. We used a company that coordinated everything which made the process a lot easier. They also have a showroom where you can pick out the cabinets, hardware, etc., plus they took us to the granite place. This cut down on a lot of aggravation. If we’d had to hire the different craftsmen on our own, I’d never have started in the first place. I’ve talked about this more on my personal blog at

  3. We are just undergoing the start of the process. We figure we have a 50s kitchen in a 1917 house, and so we’re gutting and taking a wall out and . . . . Well, yesterday an old chimney they’d walled up in the wall started coming down. I hope mine goes well. I can’t wait for the finished product.

  4. Diana, ours was a 70s kitchen. We didn’t change the layout at all. That would have been even more costly, and I was happy with the basic design. You’re doing more extensive work. Cool, an old chimney hidden in the wall…that could lead to some good story ideas.

  5. My husband does all of our building and remodeling—-in his own sweet time.

  6. Sounds like the Ninc website renovation.

    It’s going to be gorgeous! Not long now until the new site launches.

  7. I see a lot of us can identify with renovations. Dh could care less, but I love turning my house into exactly what I want it to be. (It’s my nest, my office, my refuge, the place where we entertain friends, so I think I’m entitled.)

  8. Remodeling is wonderful when the job is done, but the process can be a mixture of pain and joyful anticipation…just like writing a book.

  9. Very cool portal design. What CMS do you use ?

  10. Stonecreek Media designed my site.

  11. If you’re asking me, I believe it’s MODx.

  12. Very wonderful portal design. What CMS do you use ?