Thursday, February 25, 2016

What I Learned About Writing While Furniture Shopping by Terri Weldon

               
Over the past few months I’ve been shopping for new furniture for my formal living room. Should be fun, right? The fun ceased after my first trip to the huge store I favor. A few laps around that massive shop and I’d seen so many living room combinations that my head was spinning.

I finally settled on a sofa and love seat. Unfortunately, the media center I chose had sold out. Plus no more were going to be available. So I went home and rested and on another day went back to the furniture store. I purchased a media center and – surprise – a curio. Now you probably wonder what this has to do with writing. Trust me – plenty.

When the furniture arrived I had a disaster on my hands. I hadn’t measured the room and the sofa and love seat I bought dwarfed the space. No measurements equaled no plotting. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t plot I end up in a mess. I write myself into a corner and end up doing tons of rewrites. Even a simple outline makes my writing flow easier.

The problems didn’t stop there. The second choice media center – wrong style. Not to mention ugly. It didn’t look bad in the store. But at my house it was the wrong color, wrong size, and old-fashioned. Kind of like when I’m writing a story and for some reason my suspense story ends up with a simile that should have been in a light hearted romance. Or when my sympathetic heroine turns rabid and has a maniacal rant at the hero. Hey, it’s been known to happen. I remember a contest judge telling me once that my heroine was so mean she’d kick a puppy. Ouch!

So the love seat and media center are going back to the store. Hours of time wasted. Kind of like when it is time to edit. It’s hard work. As writers we’ve sweated over those words and deleting them hurts. How many of you have a file where you save deleted scenes? I’m raising my hand. For some reason it doesn’t hurt as bad when I save the words, but I rarely go back and use anything from that file.

Painful or not the editing process makes my story better. Now when a contest judge or critique partner reads my work in progress they won’t think “That heroine is too mean to live!” Instead through the editing process, my character remains true to herself and my reader stays happy. Not to mention it keeps the author from looking neurotic.

Once the room edit was complete, a lovely chair took the place of the love seat and a taller but more streamlined media center replaced the ugly one. Oh, and I discovered the room needed one more thing. As a finishing touch I added a coffee table.  

Likewise by the time my manuscript is ready to submit the words have been polished and the plot keeps the story moving forward. And if I’ve done a really good job, then I’ve managed to find the perfect words to bring a tear to my readers eye or a smile to her face or send a chill down her spine or even have her think she can’t quit reading – not yet.
I’m sure you guys are all better designers, and writers, than me, so take a minute and leave me a  tip or two.

Terri Weldon is a lead analyst by day and an author by night. She enjoys gardening, reading, and shopping for shoes. One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as the librarian at her church. It allows her to shop for books and spend someone else’s money! Plus, she has the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction. She lives with her family in Oklahoma. Terri has two adorable Westies – Crosby and Nolly Grace. Terri is a member of ACFW and OCFW, a local chapter of ACFW. Her dream of becoming a published novelist came true in November 2013 when Mistletoe Magic, released from White Rose Publishing.

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6 comments:

  1. Ha! I laughed at the mean heroine kicking the puppy! Sometimes I deal with that and wonder if I allow a character to vent for me.

    Enjoyed the analogy, Terri!

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  2. Thanks, Sandra. I don't think I'll ever forget that comment from the judge! I now consciously work to make my heroines nicer.

    I love puppies!

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  3. Fun article, Terri! I'm a huge believer in plotting. I need to know my destination (end of story)so I can figure out how to arrive there. I've found that I can freeze at the computer if I don't have a basic map to follow. Plotting also helps me to see where there might be pot holes in the journey. I still give myself permission to deviate a little as creativity flows ...

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  4. Dawn, you nailed it. I used to try and say I was a pantster. My manuscripts always ended up in a mess. But I agree there has to be room for deviations. Kind of like throwing the curio into the living room mix, it just worked.

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  5. What a great post! I find a plan makes almost every job easier to accomplish and with much less aggravation. Great your furniture worked out as well!

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  6. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. And I totally agree, plans do make things much easier.

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