Laying a new floor is like Writing a novel

We are finishing up some major rehab on our home. The latest project was installing hardwood floors in the whole downstairs. I’d visualized what it would look like and was excited to see the finished project. The whole process reminds me of writing a novel. Each step in the process of installation took much longer than I anticipated, even with my wonderful son bringing all his great tools over to make the job easier. My hubby, grandson and my son’s brother-in-law all had a part in giving me my beautiful wood floors.

We had lots of insulation and carpet bits to remove from the subfloor. That reminded me of all the repetitive words and unnecessary phrases in my draft.

Rough draft/ subflooring

Once the yucky old carpet was removed we discovered that the subfloor was threequarters of an inch below the wood floor already in the kitchen. We could have laid the wood floor and left a nice trip zone between the family room and the kitchen. That short cut would have saved time but made it less than I envisioned. Less professional looking and an even flow of flooring from room to room.

The subfloor is the rough draft, the time to get the story on paper. Nailing down the story arc is the key to giving your manuscript a good subfloor.

Short cuts early on in a manuscript create problems later. If your idea for a scene isn’t working because previous scenes don’t lead up to your present scenario you will trip up your readers. Don’t leave those uneven parts in your novel. Early in the process, you can fix them.

Stripping the area down to the subflooring revealed a problem. The previous owner left the linoleum when they laid the wood floor. To be sure the finished floor had an even flow required an additional layer of three-quarter-inch subfloor on top of the original. It leveled the floor to the perfect height to install the new flooring.

Rework those early drafts until the story arc moves as it should. Be sure each scene seamlessly flows into the others.

The first draft, even the second is that subfloor stage.

What a difference adding the extra layer of subfloor made. Tweaking your manuscript at this phase adds depth and makes it better.  Although the new subflooring looked clean and fresh I still wasn’t about to invite guests over. The same is true of your manuscript at this stage—don’t rush to send it to a publisher.

Proper layout

My husband and son taking a break from laying the floor. The bare floor is beautiful but there is so much more that needs doing before we can reveal the finished product.

The bare wood is beautiful and to remain so there is a specific way it needs to be laid. Each new row of planking must be laid so the seam of the previous row of planking is met with a solid surface. The patterns make the flooring firmer.

At this point in your story creation, you need to go back and layer your scenes. Check to see your character arc is moving along. Look for show vs tell areas and checking your POV.  Be sure surprise twists in the plot make sense, otherwise, the reader will be irritated. The pattern of your story arc and character development must be a thing of beauty to keep readers engaged.

The new and old flooring had to be sanded before the final step can take place. The stain had to match throughout, and it had to lay flat with no bubbles or imperfections. At this stage, you may gut an entire scene from your novel or rearrange sentences or even chapters.

Turning good to great

It took a weekend to get the floor laid properly and it still wasn’t entertainment ready. This step pairs with the polished final draft. But there are still things to transform the manuscript from good to great.

After the stain and varnish are added, the true character of the flooring comes to life. Then you wait a few days before furniture can be placed on it. This step in your manuscript is the polish your prose stage. You scour it for overused words, correcting punctuation and grammar (errors you missed the first ten times you read through your work) and tweak your character arc. Anything to make your novel shine.

Trim and final touches

The trim pieces are added and then the floor is complete. Your publisher adds the trim pieces and gets it ready for release.

The time from ripping out the carpet to completing the floor was several months. We had other rooms that need to be finished first. My son has a full-time job so he came when he could fit it in.

A book can take up to eighteen months after you sign a contract before it sees the light of release. During that time editors work with you to rework and polish to perfection, the right cover is chosen. The front and back copy added, and the font is selected. Not to mention the proper layout of the e-book edition.

My hubby looked over the finished floor to see if there was any touchup needed. We discussed the type of lightening we need and the furniture placement to set off the floor to its best advantage.

Shortly after receiving your paperback copies in the mail it’ll be release day and your beautiful novel is ready to share with the world.

Now that my floor is complete and my furniture in place I am ready for holiday gatherings.

And additional thought

The hardest part of this whole process was the waiting. Walking around on subflooring for months was frustrating and embarrassing. As a writer, the hardest part of novel creation is the edit and rewrite stage. The initial story and the final product are the most fun. Somewhere during the process discouragement sets in. That’s when I seek out others to remind me the finish line is just over the next hill of edits. By the time we got to the stain and varnish stage, I was more than ready for the final reveal. Don’t miss a step in the process and you’ll love the final result.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you? What is your favorite part?

 

Ten Tips for Writing a Rough Draft in 30 days

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November is NaNoWriMo month. Writing a novel in a month is a great goal. A daunting one for most of us. Not a perfect novel. Just the first draft. I usually don’t participate in NANoWriMo. Thanksgiving and lots of birthdays makes it too challenging. I tend to do the one-month marathon in March during Seekerville’s Speedbo. That month has worked the last few years for me. But you can choose any month to write your rough draft in 30 days.  First, you need to get a few things done before hand.

  1. Complete your research

By this I mean basic research. Setting, plot development, vocabulary for genre, backstory information such as medical terms, military speak or police procedure. You can add more detail for clothing etc. during the rewrite phase.

 

  1. Have notes, outlines. Character sketches and setting maps finished.

Notes help you remember what you wanted to write for specific scenes. Character sketches guide you in your character’s responses to situations. The sketch helps remind us of bad habits, fears or past hurts.

 

  1. Plot out your daily word goal 

The goal is up to you. Divide the require end count for your genre by the days you plan to write. You can plan a specific word count goal that gets you half way or three quarters through your manuscript. That’s usual enough of an incentive to finish it.

80,000 divided by 30= 2667 daily goal

45,000 divided by 30= 1500 daily goal

80,000 divided by 25= 3200 daily goal

45,000 divided by 25= 1800 daily goal

 

  1. Figure out what time(s) of the day are best for you to write each day.

I prefer mornings because my creative juice gets drained after 7pm. My day job days tend to produce a smaller word count unless inspiration hits at night.

 

  1. Choose your quiet place(s) for maximum productivity.

If you work better surrounded by noisy family, go for it. Most often there is that desk in your office, the kitchen table or the recliner in the den where creativity blooms. Sometimes a location away from home can help inspire reaching a word count goal.  I can’t do Starbuck or Panera’s because they’re just too noisy. But give me a study room at the library and I can knock it out of the park.

 

  1. Resolve to do your best and not quit writing until your 30 days have past.

Even if you don’t reach your word count goals because some days got complicated. You’ve managed to get more words on paper than if you hadn’t accepted the thirty-day challenge.

 

  1. Do it with friends.

NaNoWriMo and Speedbo encourage working with others. They provide help and encouragement all along the way. You can gather a few writer friends and hold each other accountable for your progress. Weight Watchers uses this same strategy. We know any hard thing is easier when we don’t feel alone. Writing is a lonely endeavor.

 

  1. Reward yourself

Set short and long-term rewards. A specially Latte or your favorite decadent treat for a weekly word count goal. Perhaps a week-end excursion for complete the 30-day challenge. If you tell your spouse you’re plan is a romantic get-away if you meet the challenge, they will probably do all they can to ensure you succeed.

 

  1. Post it on Social Media

This accomplishes two things. Additional accountability and early marketing for your book. Those who follow your progress are going to be curious about the finished project.

 

  1. Prayer and reflection

Time with the Lord brings clarity and encourages our spirit. Daily revitalization is a key to perseverance.

Hope you found these tips helpful for whenever you decide to take a 30-day challenge. My last two books began at Speedbo.  I’m gearing up to complete my next rough draft through Speedbo as well.

I’d love to hear how thirty-day challenges have grown your writing career. Share any other tips you’ve found helpful.