A Book is Like a Christmas Tree by Diane Gaston PerkinsMy daughter and I decorated the Christmas tree yesterday, and it occurred to me that decorating a Christmas Tree is like writing a book.
Step One: Pull out the tree and box of decorations from the basement.
This stage is the glimmer of a story idea. Everything is in pieces or unformed but all the parts are there waiting to be assembled.
Step Two: Remove the tree from its storage box.
We have an artificial tree, one that comes in pieces and has to be constructed, so this stage is like writing a synopsis. It is a tree but a pre-constructed one.
Step Three: Build the tree
Building the tree is like writing the first draft, organizing the book into chapters, flushing the story out into something with a beginning, middle and end.
Step Four: String the lights
The lights represent the heart of the story, the emotion, conflict, the romance, the part of the story that gives it excitement and the glow of something real.
Step Five: Putting on the ornaments
The ornaments are all those little details that make a story rich. Details of character, of setting. Dialogue that is just right. Description that is vivid and real.
Step Six: Stringing the garland
This is the final polish. Going through and making sure all spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct. Getting rid of repetitions and inconsistencies
Step Seven: Putting away the boxes
This is where you clean up your works space of all the clutter you have accumulated. The book/tree is shining on its own, ready to be admired by all!
Now, I can just hear it. Some of you will say, “But we always buy a real tree.” Your Step One and Two are going to the tree farm and cutting it down, or to the Boy Scouts in the parking lot picking out the tree and tying it to your roof. Same thing!
Some of you will say, “But my artificial tree is already assembled.” That’s great! You are one of those writers whose story ideas come fully plotted, instead of having to be constructed scene by scene.
Others will smile smugly and say, “My tree comes with lights already attached.” Hmmph. You are that lucky breed who write a first draft that is near perfect and needs only a little embellishment.
The other day a friend of mine told me of someone he knew who had constructed a hidden closet in his living room, its sole purpose to store the already fully decorated Christmas tree. When the Season comes, this fellow merely opens the door and pulls out the tree for all to admire.
This is what everyone else thinks it takes to write a book. We know better!
I wish you all a wonderful holiday!
You can still get Diane's Christmas novella, A Twelfth Night Tale in Mistletoe Kisses from Eharlequin or Amazon. Look for Innocence & Impropriety by Diane Gaston, March 2007