My sister *waves to Robyn* is having her kitchen remodeled. All along, her plan had been to keep the same basic footprint, but modernize the small space with current materials and appliances. She struggled to see beyond that.
Not that it was any of my business, but I had my own ideas for her kitchen. I didn't see the space as small at all. I saw that she had the perfect space to create the big, open concept kitchen most people dream of.
What was the disparity between our opinions? Vision.
In real life, and in writing, we sometimes need to expand the scope of our vision. How can we do that? Here are some suggestions:
- Widen the lens--If we look beyond what's already there, whether it's a kitchen footprint or a finished manuscript, the solutions multiply. Kitchens are not set in stone. Neither are words, plot lines, beginnings, and endings. Marinate on the story for as long as it takes. What's the bigger picture? How can it be deeper? Wider? Richer?
- Seek outside help--My sister was really good about this. She bounced ideas around with friends and family, and kept the margaritas coming while we brainstormed. We writers become so close to our own stories, it's almost impossible to be objective about them. I'm always amazed at how productive a fresh set of eyes can be. But, this leads to my next point...
- Make your own choices--Ask 100 people about a kitchen design, and you'll receive 100 opinions. Everyone brings different skills and life experiences to the table, and sometimes all the varied opinions become overwhelming. Same with story solutions. At some point, we just have to sift through the ideas, choose what we like best, and apply them. My sister's kitchen is her kitchen, and she makes the final choices. Same with our manuscripts. We make the final call.
- Go skeletal--Once my sister's kitchen was demolished, and nothing but 2 x 4's and insulation were showing, she finally saw how much room she had to work with. This helped her see the bigger picture. We can mentally strip our stories down to bare bones, or story structure. If we're satisfied with a solid structure, we can then rebuild the rest in (relative) confidence.
- Read widely--When we read widely, and in different genres, we open our minds to so many possibilities. I was surprised how reading the classic A Lesson Before Dying had such an impact on my current story. And even though they're not in my genre, reading paranormal, historical, or dystopian stories teach me so much.
- Accept imperfections--My hubby and I built our own home sixteen years ago. Even though it was built the way we wanted it, and we adore our home, there are still things we would do differently. When I read past work, there are always things I want to change. I could do that until I grow gray(er) hair and rock my future grandchildren to sleep. Houses, kitchens, and stories will never, ever be perfect. We must be at peace with that.
When it's finished, my sister's kitchen will be beautiful. It's always been filled with love, laughter, and margaritas, and that will never change.
Our stories can be beautiful, and filled with love, laughter, and drama. Hopefully widening our vision will allow the reader a much richer experience.
Is there anything you'd like to add? Have you struggled with widening your vision, or does a writing partner, agent or editor help you push past that? Please share!