18 hours ago
09 November 2009
The View from Up Here
Last Wednesday I walked outside to see a truck parked by my neighbor's house, which sits behind ours. There were pallets of shingles in the driveway and men walking all over her roof. My poodle looked at them like they were crazy and at me to see what was going on. It was a beautiful day. The wind flowed through the leaves, bringing with it the sound of hammers and the pleasant feeling of being watched from above.
The process of a new roof is a lot like editing a book. The foundation is built. The structure is place. The building itself is in good condition and has a lot of promise. But there are weak places that need to be fixed, sections of "telling" that have to be removed, word choice needs to be examined. If not fixed, the interior will be exposed to the elements and possibly ruined--or in our case, leave too many weak spots and possibly prevent us from landing that agent.
Okay, so the analogy doesn't fit perfectly. :0)
If my neighbor hadn't been proactive, the next big storm could have done some major damage. She probably didn't have any real warning. After all, the roof's held for many years now. It's not like she gets up there regularly and inspects it. From the ground, the house looks like it's in great shape. But from way up there the view is entirely different.
Sometimes we need to pull ourselves away from our stories. I have to force myself to leave mine alone for extended gaps of time so that I will be able to come back with fresh eyes. It's when we pull away and gain a different perspective that we can see what needs to be done--where our problem areas are, what needs to be tweaked, and of course, what absolutely rocks.
The great thing about going up to the roof is the perspective it brings. All of the sudden we're outside the story again, able to see all the characters as our readers do. Like the picture above, these characters and subplots extend as far as the eye can see. It's our choice to decide what to use, what to ignore, and what to enhance. We can keep the birds' eye view or we can go deeper, strengthening our characters and increasing tension. We get to decide how the story unfolds--until that muse takes over and drops a massive surprise in the middle of our carefully constructed (or not-so-carefully if you're a panster) plots.
Sometimes all we really need is a change in perspective.
See Y'all Wednesday!