What I'm reading: Captive of Sin, by Anna Campbell
No surprise to anyone reading this blog regularly that I'm not much of a plotter. In fact, I'm giving my "Plotting for Non-Plotters" workshop at the Emerald City Conference in a couple of weeks. Recent events made it clear I could never be an architect.
Now that the upstairs of our house is finished (although we still need some furniture), we're moving on to the basement. While the upstairs was purely cosmetic, downstairs is a conversion. The basement is technically "finished" in that it has carpet, heat and finished walls, but it's still one big space with the exception of a bathroom and laundry area. Making it into living space means more than replacing appliances, cabinets, or painting and installing new flooring.
So, we turned to an expert, an architect our contractor recommended. He showed up, we gave him our wish list, he quoted a price (ugh), and we agreed. He took some measurements and said he'd get back to us in a few days.
Now, when we were looking at the house, before we bought it, we had some mental pictures of where the guest room would go, how we'd shift the washer and dryer to the adjacent wall to make the laundry 'area' a real room.
The architect called us in for a meeting to look at the preliminary plans. He'd made the space totally different. He moved the laundry room to a new location, put the guest room at the other end, added a hallway, and advised us to move two existing doors and add a window.
What we'd envisioned? No. Would it work? Definitely, and much better than our initial visions.
After we agreed that his ideas were much better than ours, he said he'd draw up the real plans, the blueprints we'd give contractors for bids. He started asking questions. Did we want a ceiling light in the guest room? A switched outlet beside the bed? What about built-in bookshelves in the living space? Sound insulation in the bedroom walls? Where should the television go? Did we want new tile in the bathroom? Did we want a door between the television room and the hall?
On top of all this, he was also dealing with where to put the requisite smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, electrical outlets, heating diffusers, and wiring for basic light fixtures.
If he were a writer, he'd definitely be a plotter. He has to cover all the details before he can draw up the final plans. Yes, we can make minor changes. But no moving walls or wiring. I confessed a total inability to 'see' those kinds of things. I could barely visualize the new space until I took the plans to the basement and compared them to the existing space.
With writing, I like the freedom to go back and make changes as I need them. I like the freedom to be able to write 52,000 words before figuring out what the secret ledger my heroine stole might contain. If Mrs. Fitzsimmons gives the dog a treat in chapter 18, I can go back to chapter 12 where she merely pets the dog and establish that she carries the treats in her pocket. It shows her character, but also leaves the door open for me to turn it into something more significant if I need to. I don't know what my villain does for a living yet, or where he lives.Those are details easy enough to fill in later, much to the chagrin of one of my crit partners.
I move walls as I write. I don't have an outline, much less a blueprint. Characters reveal back story as the story unfolds, and I go move some wiring. Plot points come and go. Yet I've managed to finish 6 books. However, I don't think it would be a good idea to ask me to design your house!
Tomorrow, my guest is LA police officer Kathy Bennett. Definitely a must-read. Come back.
And Randy and Sarah's epilogue, A Summer's Eve is now available at the Kindle Store as well as Smashwords. Hope you'll take a look. (check the Short Stories tab above)