Finally a family of house sparrows decided to take up residence. And now they are the lucky owners of the best bird house in town. Their home is snug in a corner, sheltered from wind and rain. And right outside their tiny door is a heated bird bath and half a dozen feeders. What more could a bird ask for?
For a few weeks we watched the momma and daddy sparrow squeeze dead grass and dried weeds into their doorway as they slowly crafted their nest. Then when all of the fluttering in and out finally stopped, we decided momma bird was probably sitting on her nest.
Not many days later when we opened our kitchen window, we heard a chorus of cheeps. The daddy flitted back and forth from the feeders to his home. Every time he reached the doorway, the newly hatched babies inside would chirp with excitement.
As we watched, we were amazed at the amount of work those babies required! The daddy and eventually the momma spent most of their time flying back and forth feeding and nurturing their babies. As the creatures grew, they would pop their heads out the door and open their beaks wide, clamoring for even more nourishment!
The whole experience reminded me of our writing. In some ways we writers are like a momma or daddy bird giving birth to our babies--our stories.
I'm at the nest building stage. I just started a new book. Like the momma and daddy birds, I spend hours and hours finding the bits and pieces of information, and then sticking them all together into a potential home for my story.
Each species of bird has a different way of building nests, and writers will have individual ways of preparing for the birth of their stories. However, I think we can all agree there are a few essential ingredients (especially for fiction writers) that go into weaving a nest strong enough for those precious stories we're about to birth.
- Research: Since I write historical fiction, this is a HUGE part of my pre-writing work. I fill up a two inch binder with goggle research. I read biographies, autobiographies, and just about anything I can find to help immerse me into the setting and characters of my story.
- Plotting: My plot notebook contains categories like: relationship conflicts, external plot points, internal/spiritual plot elements, set pieces, three act structure, inciting incident, timeline, and more.
- Characterization: I developed a four page worksheet for my major characters and it has about 50 questions that I answer and analyze. Then I fill out a one page worksheet for each of my minor characters.
When we weave these elements together early on, then we'll be better prepared for the big day, the birth of our baby: our story. If we fail to weave the nest tightly, then when we start the actual writing, parts of our story may fall through the cracks.
How well do you build your nest before giving birth to your story? Have you ever started writing and realized you didn't prepare enough? Share your nest building tips. We'd love to hear them!
Join in on Wednesday when we'll talk about nuturing our babies.