“And whenever we get lost – this happens inevitably and often– we need only remember that our story needs to physically stand someplace, that it must be a definite somewhere instead of an anywhere, that a story breathes in and breathes out just as we do.”
– Jane Vandenburgh, “Architecture of the Novel”
There are a couple of things I love about this. First, she uses “we”. She’s not pointing her finger at me, telling me how I should write. No, she is gently guiding me through the mysteries and craft of writing a novel with her at my side, acknowledging the inevitable bumps, if not outright abysses, that we will encounter along the way. And by saying “we” she is saying, “See, it’s okay. This happens to writers. To all of us. And I’m here to tell you to come on in anyway. That there’s a way out of the lostness.” And the second thing I love is that the way out of the lostness is so simple. We write in scenes. We ground our story in a specific place, at a specific time, in a specific room, with specific weather and sounds and smells and texture. We write in scenes to learn what the story has to teach us about where it needs to go. We learn to trust the story by ultimately trusting ourselves.