Yesterday I was walking my dog, thinking about the book I’m planning to write, and it dawned on me that creating a story is a lot like building a house. First thing a writer/contractor needs is to decide what kind of story/house it will be. Flash Fiction/Tiny house? Saga/mansion? Something in between? Then, of course, there’s the style. Will the story/house be a contemporary? Futuristic? Gothic?
As I walk, I find myself considering the characters I’ll need for this book. In my mind I consider possibilities that would work and discard those that I don’t feel would fit. Reminds me of when my husband was building houses. Wandering through Menards, Lowe’s, or Home Depot, he’d do the same thing. Yes for this; no for that.
In my case I need to consider my characters’ ages, physical characteristics, what they do for a living, and what they like or dislike. Are they married or single, do they have children, and if so, how many? What are the children’s ages, etc.? What are these characters names? Any particular reason why they have these names? What does a reader need to know about their families?
All that is similar to building a house. A contractor needs to figure out what to buy, style, color, how many, and so on.
Right now I’m trying to decide if this story will be told in first person pov or third? And if I decide on third, will it be a singular third person or multiple third person povs? I’ve even seen some writers switch from first to third pov depending on the character? Would I want to do that?
A lot of stories I’m reading nowadays are being told in the present tense. I don’t think I want to use present tense, yet it might work if I used part past and part present.
I know where this story is going to take place (that’s like a builder knowing where the house will be located), but I don’t know what time of the year. I’m thinking of having part of the story take place in the past, so that’s another decision I need to make. How far in the past?
I also haven’t decided what the time span will be for this story. One day? A week? Weeks or…?
All of these decisions I’m making are the building materials I need for my story. All writers, either consciously or subconsciously gather these ideas. Some writers start a story before they have everything. They trust they’ll know what they need when the time comes. Other writers carefully gather everything (sometimes in a notebook or computer file) before they start on page one. I know there’s no right or wrong way to do this, but I’m pretty sure I have many more walks with my dog before I’m ready to start writing.