Friday, 12 February 2016

Impossible settings

When thinking about setting, how carefully do you imagine the buildings you use?

In past pieces, I've often 'borrowed' my own home, or the homes of friends, but in my work in progress, I imagined a house, and thought it was fairly clear in my mind. Now I'm working on editing, with some time between writing and editing, I've found I've messed up a few times. Clearly I was simultaneously holding in my mind certain floor plans that simply won't work as the one house.

Does it matter? Will a reader ever notice? I'm not sure about that. But it matters to me. I want my world to be as real and 'honest' as possible (for a fiction!).

So today's job has been to sit down and sketch out a floor plan, based on what I've edited so far (the first three chapters - please don't mock my slow progress! At least it's progress!). It was surprisingly tricky, but now I have a little floorplan, I can check every time my characters are walking around that the study hasn't switched from the back of the house to the front, and that the party wall needs to be the opposite side of the house, unless the study is going to have no natural light. I hadn't anticipated the little every day details that might rely on knowing this kind of stuff, as deeply as you do know the lay-out of your own home.

Next time, I'm going to 'borrow' houses from Rightmove, and use real floorplans from real houses to fill with my charcters. This has got to save time, and it will be so much better than trying to work it out retrospectively.

Maybe you invent your own floorplans, and do a better job than I have (it wouldn't be hard). But I think it will help to spark my imagination to use real plans that aren't actually my neighbours' houses, or the house I grew up in.

I wonder if there are any more planning problems to find during this edit? So much to learn!

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