The holidays are behind us. From Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, the weeks seemed to have passed by in a blur. From roasting the turkey, to wrapping presents, to decorating and celebrating, I truly enjoyed the season. I was able to take time off from writing and enjoy the days with my family, but now I'm eager to get back to work.
I've let a story ferment in the back of mind; secondary characters, the setting. Which got
me to thinking. Beginning a new story is akin to the folks rebuilding after last summer's fire. Once the debris is cleared away, they have to start from the bottom and work their way up, much like an author has to start from page one and move forward to the last page. For the folks rebuilding, and I truly wish them well, their wall paint and appliances are my cast and setting. But before you can have paint and characters, you need a foundation.
The foundation for a house is cement. Then you erect the four walls, add the siding and move inside to install electrical wiring, carpeting, windows and a stove. The foundation of the story is the beginning of your plot—the reason two people meet. A detective happening upon a murder scene with a woman kneeling beside the body holding the gun; an outlaw holding up a stage only to have a lady passenger challenge him; a woman running for help and colliding into a stranger's thick chest; once you've decided on the initial point of contact, you can go back and figure out who is she and why is she holding the gun? Or why is she traveling on the stage? Where did she come from? And what is the outlaw's reason for holding up the stage? The hero and heroine's backgrounds are your four walls, and the 'what happens next' is your wall paint, carpeting and appliances. Because every 'what happens next' builds upon the foundation of the story, with the overall goal of reaching the end, just like the home owner's end is 'moving in' day.
Both journeys don't happen overnight. They're long processes that sometimes consist of having to go back and fix a plot point or exchange one dishwasher for another. Eventually, you do get to the end of the story and that feeling of euphoria is worth the sweat and labor required to write every detail. At least, that's how I'll feel when I type 'The End' on this next story.