The Magic of Details

Writing is an art form that allows us to take a romance and turn it into a paranormal in a quick setting change. By changing the goal of our bad guy, we can turn him into a hero if we want. I like to remake my first drafts. It's fun. But I found inspiration the other day that I wanted to share because it made me look at my RE-writing in a new light.

It didn't come in any form I expected, and to be honest, I've seen it a thousand times without ever actually seeing it.

The Dollhouse 2012
There is this old house we drive by on our way to the city. So for 30 some years, I have seen this abandoned house, falling down on the side of the road. Slowly, it started decaying and I do remember my dad saying a few times that someone should knock it down.

In 2007, artist in resident Heather Benning transformed it into something really cool. See NEWS REPORT and some other PHOTOS and STORIES HERE.

She turned it into THE DOLLHOUSE. Perhaps you've heard of it. If not, let me catch you up. She replaced one side of the house with plexiglass and then redid the interior like a dollhouse from the 60s. Yeah, I know, it's one of those things that makes you go "What? Cool."

It's just off number two highway which means it sees a fair bit of traffic. In fact, there is always a car parked there. Last time we drove by it was raining but I asked hubby to stop. I don't know why, maybe I was looking for inspiration, maybe I just wanted to see if it was still holding up. Or maybe, it's just that cool.

As I said, it was raining, muddy, yet another family was out there just staring at it in awe.


I tried to see what they were seeing, because to me, it was still the old house I grew up ignoring, the one no one even cared enough to knock down.

One of my kids said it was cool that Heather saved it.

Saved it? It was still falling down, wasn't it? I took a better look. Yeah. It was. But! People were looking at it in awe. People were pointing to the details. The flowers, the basin, the things left on the floor or dresser.


Even falling down it was a masterpiece because of fine details she'd added in.

No one lived in the house since the 60's, but it looked like Barbie or Ken might come out any minute to smell the flowers in the kitchen. It had a new life. Yet it was still the old house I wouldn't dare sneeze by for fear it crumble.

It really hadn't changed much on the outside.

And there it was. That's what I was doing wrong. You can change a title, you can change a genre, you can move the plot around so it reads differently. You can cut scenes. You can knock it down and start fresh, but until you crawl into your story and add in details that make people point, you're just hiding a mess. It's the inside that counts sometimes.

 She didn't change the outside, just put up a sign that this was THE DOLLHOUSE. She didn't really change the inside either, just added in details and made the entire thing stronger, but her changes to the structure are hidden amongst the old, so you can't see them, they blend in perfectly.

She left the old and brought in details to finish it. 

Details that left people in awe. That is magic. That is what I want to do with my next MS. I don't want to change a thing from that first draft, just deepen the inside of my story so people turn the pages in awe at how rich and full the inside is.

Ever stop to look at something you thought you knew and finally see what everyone else sees? Do you like to redo your first drafts or just polish them? What is the last thing you saw that made you stand in awe at the details? Because wow. Look at what she did with that dump. *Applause.*


Victoria Lindstrom said...

Ken and Barbie - now that takes me back! You're right, Tanya - getting inside our story is where the magic hides. I find pulling that off extremely difficult. Great post!

Richard said...

Putting in the plexiglass was the magic. She saw into the future.

BTW, I like the new look of your blog.

Pk Hrezo said...

*sigh* Tanya, I love this.
What an amazing and artfully outstanding thing to do. Total coolness!!! I wish I could gawk at it in person. Some peeps just amaze me.

I love how you tied it into writing too. So so true. It's like when we get past the first draft syndrome of thinking everything's perfect, we get back in there and add those details that turn an okay story into a brilliant one. That's where the real art is. I get that. :)

Vicki Tremper said...

What a cool post. (And I love the new look.)

In May, when my husband and I climbed those 100 meters of steps on the Eiffel Tower, we noticed they'd put in dummies of men working on the structure. Men in 19th century working clothes, hanging practically upside down to paint or hammer or who-knows-what. Sure we all gawk at a structure like the Eiffel Tower. But those little men really got us talking.

I've never thought about my writing that way. Thanks!

Samantha Sotto said...

WOW. Love the way you tied it into writing. So true. The magic happens in the details :D Have a great week!

Misha Gericke said...

I love this idea.

I always try to use the same approach when I write. First I put together a house and then make it pretty. :-)

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

What a cool idea! I'd love to see that house!