Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Being specific

Kaye Dacus has an excellent post on her blog today. About windows. I found it wonderful!

Her comment about needing to know what her characters houses look like really struck me. I thought I was the only one who has to know what the house looks like! And I mean from the color of the paint all the way to whether or not the kitchen has bamboo floors and what kind of appliances did they buy. I have a growing collection of house plan magazines. I buy them for the express purpose of finding the right house for my characters. I need to know the layout, where's the fireplace, where are the stairs, how many bathrooms are there?

For years, I've wandered through my writing, thinking I'm the only one out there who has to write by the seat of my pants, who can't stick to a plot outline to save my life, who never knows what's going to happen next. All around me I kept hearing "that's not the way to write, you have to outline". Chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene. I just can't be that specific! It isn't in my nature.

It was such a wonderful breath of fresh air and renewal to my writing spirit to finally join ACFW. I am now surrounded by other writers who can't or won't plot, have to know what a character's house looks like and aren't afraid to tackle the tough and sometimes taboo subjects in the realm of Christian fiction. Tough and taboo subjects constantly pop up in my writing, from childhood abuse to characters struggling with homosexuality and PTSD. None of these are things that I have ever experienced, or even know someone who really had.

I'm convinced the ideas and character backgrounds are there for a reason. Maybe my being specific and even tackling the subject of human trafficking will help someone find God's grace someday.

So I shall continue to be my specific self, always looking for the right detail, the right piece of information, the right house plan. It's comforting to know without a doubt that I am not alone.

And once I've sufficiently recovered from my harrowing drive home, I'll get specific about how my 13 minute drive home from work took me an hour and quite literally all the way around town.


  1. I adore house planning magazines. Picturing layouts and details is waaaay fun. In fact, my heroine is an amateur decorator so she gets to notice all kinds of things.

    I'm a cross between a pantser and a plotter. I guess I plot by the seat of my pants, LOL!

  2. Whenever I start a new story, I always know where it's going to end up--the hero and heroine confessing their love for each other and living happily ever after :-). I find that if I know too many of the specifics of the story (i.e., an outline or detailed synopsis), I don't want to write it. 90% of the fun of writing for me is discovering the story along the way.

    For my historical series, I did chapter-by-chapter storyboards with images of the settings (houses, shops, ships, Portsmouth Harbour, etc.) along with images of the Real World Templates for my characters and costumes so that I could keep everything straight. I'm very much a "specific" gal--I like to have specific images so that I can describe things specifically in my stories. Maybe a little too specifically sometimes, but that's what second drafts are for. And third. And fourth . . .