a guest blog by Kimberly Savage
I make it a point in life: never argue with Albert Einstein. Who knows what he had in mind when he wrote the words above but, to me, he describes the mysterious process of writing perfectly. And how we surprise ourselves along the way.
Starting the first draft of my work-in-progress, I had a sketch of what my book was about: the characters, the setting, the ideas. Enter the Book Architecture Method which both helps you organize the material you already know, and helps you discover things you didn’t know about your book.
I wrote my first draft and then, following the Method, I analyzed it. I figured out my theme. I recalled my scenes from memory. And I wrote down my series.
If you don’t know series, it is the quintessential Book Architecture concept. I think of it as an archetype, which can be a character, a setting, an object, a phrase, an idea, a theme. For more information on series, check out this PDF from Stuart’s third book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts.
Many of my series that I had in my mind stayed mostly the same, maybe with some cutting and stitching. But I also found I’d started something new in the draft that stood out: Biology.
Being able to take a step back is what any writing method should help you do…or else it’s not doing its job. In my case, I saw:
- Biology is my main character’s favorite school subject.
- There’s some subtext about genetics – since the character is half Native American.
- Add to that, the character is a cutter, so there’s blood.
- And, oh yeah, there’s rumination on life and death – what we know, what we don’t know.
I made Biology a series. If I was wrong, and it turned out to be a dead end, I could always erase it from my series grid.
Then I wrote my second draft, and a funny thing happened. Biology became a big deal in the story. I used it as a metaphor, a scene-builder, a character-enhancer. It became one of the main series of the story. It made my story much stronger, much deeper.
Biology as a series surprised me, because it wasn’t in my head when I’d started. And if I hadn’t been looking for new series and surprises, I would’ve missed it.
Using the Method is an amazing way to harness the mystery of your own writing.
- You go beyond what you already know about your story,
- You identify the mysteries that you’ve created, and
- You figure out how to make your story stronger with them.
And you still have lots of room for all the things you have yet to discover.
So go ahead, give the Method a try. Your story will be stronger for it. And you’ll make Einstein so proud.