- 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.