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Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Did you ever think decorating a room is like writing a book? Or writing a book is like decorating a room? Author Chris Redding has, and she’s here today to tell us all about it.
Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism and a minor in English. When she isn't writing she works part time for her local hospital. -- AP

Designing a Plot

Designing a room is a lot like writing a book, and writing a book is a lot like designing a room.

I have two friends who are interior decorators. One taught me to sew (thank you Emily!). The other taught me about color and how to decorate a room.

You begin with a focal point. This is the piece of furniture the theme of the room revolves around. We have a front room, one of those rooms people make a formal living room, then put a velvet rope across. No velvet rope across mine. We use our front room. I write in it in the winter. It’s the warmest room in the house.

DH and I didn’t begin our front room with a focal point. We planned to paint the walls Kelly green, but we started shopping for a couch before we got around to painting the room. Good thing because we fell in love with a couch that absolutely would not work with Kelly green walls.

We had to rethink the paint.
This is what it’s like when an idea finally congeals for a book. I start out thinking I’m going to write about A, but I end up writing about B.

While at the furniture store buying the couch, I sat in a wing-back chair. I hate wing-back chairs. I’m short and that hump in the back hits my at the top of my head. But this chair fit me. Perfectly. And it matched the couch.

Buying a style chair I’d sworn I’d never buy is like using a plot device I swore I’d never use. This happened in A View to a Kilt. I never liked books where a character changed her identity to hide her past. Yet my heroine does just that to hide the identity of her ex-husband. Never say never.

So now we had a couch and a recliner. It was DH’s turn to pick a chair. He picked one I didn’t think matched the couch and other chair. I couldn’t talk him out of it. However, that chair has aged and now looks great in our front room. On top of that, it’s the most comfortable chair in the house.

In writing, sometimes your editor has an idea you initially disagree with, but when you make the change, you realize she was right, and your book is so much better.

We had a couch, two chairs, and DH was going to build tables. We found a paint color. The next thing we needed were window treatments which I planned to sew. I called on my other interior decorator friend for a fabric book. I described the paint and the idea behind the room. She dropped off a book and I chose the fabric before she’d even driven out of my neighborhood. This is like brainstorming with your critique partners. Sometimes they come up with some fabulous ideas for your story.

Thanks, Chris! What an interesting post! I never thought about how much decorating and writing have in common. -- AP 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for having me today.

KM Fawcett said...

I never thought about writing a book like designing a room before. Great blog post!

Angela Drake said...

Great analogy, Chris! It's no wonder I love your writing style :-) Now if I could just decorate hehe

Patricia said...

Great analogy and a really enjoyable blog to read. I couldn't decorate a room if you paid me but if I had to I'd do it the exact same way as you described. I'd pick a great couch first then a comfy chair and THEN see what color to paint the room.

Unknown said...

Now I'm wondering what it says about my writing that my living room is a mismatched mess, LOL!

Anonymous said...

I think my room is much neater than my first drafts. Hope that makes you feel better.

lighting fixture said...

Very well said. An inspiring quote for me to start redecorating my room.