Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How writing is like Interior Design

In college I majored in History and Interior Design (funny combo I know). I should have majored in Lit because those are the classes I took for fun. But I don't think my Interior Design knowledge is watsed, because I believe creating an amazing story and creating an amazing room are the same.

For the sake of argument I belive this metaphor applies to fiction - poetry, non-fiction, and memoirs are different beasts.

Room = Plot : Every room needs a floor, walls, ceiling. Without those things there is no room. Same goes for a story. Every story needs a plot. Without a plot we wander aimlessly around never doing or accomplishing anything. All rooms are basic, just like all plots are basic. It is what we put in them that make them special.

Wall Color = Voice : You can put a million things on walls: paint, paper, fabric, wood, brick, etc. Each thing and color brings a different feeling to the room. Voice is the same, poetic, funny, or snarky. Every kind of voice encirles the story setting the tone, pace, and mood. You would never paint a country living room royal is the wrong voice.

Furniture = Characters : One rule of interior design is NEVER use sets of furniture. Your couch and chairs should never match. Find pieces that are different but coordinate and
compliment each other. Same goes for characters. They should be so different from each other that even their dialogue can't be confused. Just like perfectly paired furniture adds depth to a room, perfectly paired characters do the same: solid stable character (like a couch) set against a fragile flighty character (spindly wingback chair) contrast each other and make a story/room interesting.

Furniture Placement = Scene Selection/Pacing : The three foot rule (there should be three feet of walking space around furniture) is used in interior design to keep a natural flow in a room. You would never take all your furniture and push it into a pile in the middle of the room - that's weird. Where you place your scenes and what the pace of your story is effects how readers move through your story. Place your scenes well and the story flow is natural. Another thought - you would never stick a fridge in your living room. A fridge is a great piece of furniture, but in the wrong place it doesn't work. Sometimes we hang onto scenes we like but don't work...put the fridge back in the kitchen, you will be glad you did.

Lighting = Mood : Well placed lighing in a room makes all the difference and sets the mood for your room: bright, eerie, sad, friendly. Mood can even be used to spotlight something important in your story. Throw a spotlight on it- so to speak.

Accessories = Details we LOVE : Throw pillows, rugs, art, mirrors, etc...these are the first things we notice in a room. They add intrest, spice, or comfort. Accessories are just like the details we add to our story to make it pop. New worlds, interesting settings, magic, etc. etc. If you took all the accessories in your room and put them on your lawn they would lose all their interest. Accessories need the context of a room, wall color, furniture and lighting to be their best. Same goes for a story without the context of structure; the details that make our story pop are meaningless.

Wow, that felt a little rambleing. I hope it made sense. I really believe that everything that is creative relates to each other.



Amy Dahlke said...

Very nice metaphor. I've never thought of writing and interior design like that before. Cute! I love the pictures too!

Densley Family said...

I thought it was great! IT was more simple than you thought. I wish you could connect rugs and pillows to my history class. I especially enjoyed the connection between characters and furniture. You're right! they have to be in the right scenes and parts of the story to make it function well.

Janice Hardy said...

This is awesome. I love how you broke this down with the various story elements. Especially mood and voice, which are hard to explain sometimes. I've often used building a house as a writing example and this so fits with that. Nice to see I'm not nuts for thinking about it like that!

Carradee said...

I dunno about History & Interior Design being "funny" majors. I'd think they could actually be compatible, considering how culture affects even interior architecture.

I love the metaphor, though! :D

MDK said...

Great post! Now, I'm going to be searching for other fiction metaphors to make.

CherylAnne Ham said...

I majored in Interior Design, but never thought to compare it to writing. It totally makes sense though. What a fun post. :D

Tracy Z. said...

I never thought of writing in terms of interior design but it makes absolute sense. Thanks for sharing!

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