On What Rock Do You Build?

Today’s mail brought a glossy brochure advertising the opening of a new CornerStone Church in our area. I like the name.

A cornerstone isn’t a complicated thing to understand. The dictionary defines it as a keystone, foundation, or basis – an important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends.

It makes me think of Matthew 7:24-27* where we are admonished to live securely grounded on the rock that can withstand storms rather than on sand that will wash away. It’s a smart policy whether we’re talking about our faith, our lives or our homes, and I think it can also be applied to our writing.

Writing by “the seat of our pants” is a sans-plotting method that many of us have used. It works, too, but I sometimes wonder why, because it’s a little like building a story on sand. There’s no firm foundation, nothing substantial set in place to anchor it or keep it from falling apart as we labour on, tossing our words at it.

I’ve mentioned my not-quite-pantsing, not-quite-plotting, somewhere-in-the-middle planning method before, in a guest post on Joylene Butler’s blog (you have to scroll down a few entries to the October 14th post if you want to check it out), and I’m not advocating any particular method here. I’m just wondering how other writers guarantee a strong storyline in their novels.

Does your writing have a cornerstone? How does it work for you?

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* “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
[Matthew 7:24-27, NIV]

I’m Not Here, I’m There

Today you’ll find me guest blogging at Joylene Butler’s blog. Joylene invited me to share with her readers my idea for a method of story design that is a compromise between plotting and “pantsing”. If you have a minute please pop over there and check it out.

(Joylene Nowell Butler is the author of the 2008 crime thriller, Dead Witness.)