We moved from Boise about four years ago. We sold our home by ourselves and so I spoke with many of our prospective buyers. Without fail they all told me that our house had 'good bones' but it wasn't the right fit. Not all of them said it exactly like that, but that was the basic gist of the conversation.
Our house was built well...good foundation, solid roof, intelligent design. But even with all those factors in place, they still walked away. Maybe we were asking too much, or maybe it was the crash of the stock market. Probably both.
I've wondered about the bones of my story, my novel. How is the design? Have I crafted it with a solid structure? Have I painted a realistic and viable back story? Have I covered all the plot points, patched up any holes?
And last, but not least...Do my characters want to live here? Why? What sets my story structure apart from all the others on the market? Does my design suit my protagonist? My antagonist? Will it showcase and provide a large enough stage for my conflict?
Are the bones of my story strong enough to support some dramatic blows? Could it withstand a few stretches of imagination? The windows might rattle, and the pipes might leak...but by the final chapter, after all the twists and conflicts, will my story be standing?
I've been reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. It's one of those books that I read, and re-read, make notes, and then read once more. It has several levels to it and each time I flip through it, I feel like I get a new insight from it.
One of Larry's main points is: your story must have the organization, strength and basic architecture to support all of your themes, characters, plot twists, conflicts, etc. Basically, does your house have good bones?
I'm doing some renovation of my story. I think it has all of the right elements, but I discovered, with the help of my writing partners, that there are a few cross beams missing, or maybe a few tiles on the roof need repair. Who knows, after the repairs are made, I may throw out an extra wing, or put in a skylight. Who knows. Whether it's a cabin or a cathedral, by the time I type the last word, I want to proudly pronounce, 'This house has good bones.'