Monday, March 28, 2011

Working the angles

So, it's been a long time since I've posted on here. That's the thing with school--it consumes my life. I may be female, but I'm not a very good multitasker or time-manager (don't tell my bf...he believes the facade).


I recently took on some major house-renovating tasks. Like the kind that should probably be done by someone with, oh, I don't know, a contractor's license. Yeah, I go big.

One of the most minor tasks I began was pulling up the atrocious moss growing on the stairs. Although it's not a good picture:

Those lovely stairs are encased in fungus...erm, I mean carpet. Carpet samples, no less. Orange and green, of a really fuzzylicious composition. (Yes, today 'fuzzylicious' is a word. Work with me here.)

It was a bit more of a task than I anticipated. It was sweaty, dusty work. There's no telling how long how those samples had been there, and it seemed like they were rebelling against removal. Like, growing and becoming one with the wood beneath. *Refrains from 'you complete me' joke*

Somewhere around halfway down the staircase I started thinking about writing. (Mainly how I would much rather be writing, but that's not the point.) Pulling up ancient carpet on stairs is friggin' work. I found out the hard way that you can't just pull in side-to-side (aka, safe) motions. You've got to work the angles when tugging on that carpet to achieve maximum rippage, and that means occasionally pulling in non-safe (or not smart) directions.

Namely in a downhill direction, but I digress. 

The point of this rambling post isn't about potentially dangerous home improvements. It's about writing. 

Yep, there's a correlation between effective carpet removal and enjoyable and effective storytelling. Whudathunkit?

Working the angles is a good idea in carpet removal. The same goes with your've got to explore alternatives to fully evaluate your plot. You've got to scrutinize your story, find the nails (plotholes), and then figure out the best way to remove them. Brainstorm. Pick your nose. Stand on your head--whatever works for you.

Once you find the problem(s) in your story, often you've got to change your approach. Don't just keep pulling/writing in the same direction. It'll just frustrate you, and probably make you want to quit and drink a bottle of wine in a bubblebath. Don't be afraid to take a (short) breather, either. It's better to step away for a bit than to get so irritated you end up leaving the stairs half molded, half not. Or to keep writing aimlessly, with no real direction. Find the angles that work. Look for alternatives. Ask yourself "what if?" And by all means, change for a different tool from your writerly utility belt if your need to. (No sense in using a hammer if a crowbar is what you need, or vice versa.) The harder you examine your plot/characters/theme, the stronger you can make it.

If you're struggling, often you'll find those alternative angles (after a lot of painful brainstorming, of course) are the ones that tell the story best. And isn't that what we're all after here?

The only difference between writing and home improvements in an ancient rent house is, after working my novel's angles and removing plotholes, I don't feel the need for a rabies/hepatitis/tetanus cocktail vaccination.

Usually, anyway.

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Flames?


  1. So many things are so completely alike in life, aren't they? Good luck on those stairs, girlfriend. The prep work makes those stairs easier to climb, after all.

  2. Definitely! And thanks, they look tons better now, although I don't have any pictures as proof.

    Thanks for stopping by!