We were almost ready to begin our ladies’ Bible study the other night when Sandi asked about my writing. I told her about the revisions I’m working on, and how they’ll make my story better.
Then she leaned back in her chair, shook her head, and said, “I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how you write books like you do!”
I knew I had the perfect analogy for her. Sandi is a quilter, and she’d understand: Writing a book is like making a quilt.
First you select a design, the “big picture” of your finished quilt.
For a book, the “big picture” is the genre and basic plot.
As you make the design of your quilt your own, you choose colors and patterns. You spend hours selecting just the right fabrics to fit your design.
As you plot your book, you develop characters with goals, motivations, and conflicts. You choose a setting that will complement the plot. And you work on your story structure, plotting or outlining the way it works best for you.
When you start constructing your quilt, you work on one block at a time, stitching each piece into place.
When you start writing your novel, you work on one scene at a time – beginning, middle and end – stitching with words rather than thread.
Finally, you lay all your quilt blocks out on the floor to see how the finished project will look – and then you revise the design by moving blocks around and creating different color combinations.
And your novel? Revisions are part of the process! Switch that scene to a different character’s point of view. Rearrange the chapters to bring your antagonist into the picture earlier. Ramp up that happily-ever-after ending!
And last of all, when everything else is done, you finish your quilt by stitching the layers together and binding the edges, sealing the work you’ve done.
With your novel, it’s the work of editing and polishing that puts the final stamp on the story.
But the thing quilting and writing have most in common? The finished product is a work of your heart that you share with others.