You may have seen the show Flip that House or at least be familiar with the concept: Buy a house with a good locale that needs work (usually a lot of it), make smart changes and upgrades where applicable, then sell said house for oodles more than you paid. I’m too lazy for this. I can barely manage centering a shelf. But that didn’t stop me from thinking about how “flipping” is a lot like living the writer’s life – they’re both dealing with works in progress.
So, just for fun, I’m breaking it down:
Take a tour. Just like a flipper, you should occasionally step back from your wip to look at the big picture. The long view can be telling.
Removal or salvage? Find some flaws? Then it’s time to decide if these story elements should be pitched or reworked. If something has outlived its usefulness, scrape it from your wip like 80s wallpaper.
Consider color. As someone who’s recently done a bit of painting (yes, I can do that too) I’m here to tell you there’s nothing like seeing a splat of color where once there was only white. Is your manuscript one-tone? Add some humor, some quirky personalities, or—if you’re writing a comedy—a serious moment or two. You know what they say about variety and the spice of life, after all. Speaking of…
Bake some bread. Prospective buyers love the scent of home, and prospective readers will appreciate your attention to the sensory details in your story, too.
Think space. Are your scenes doing all they should? Are they doing too much? Knock down a wall or add one to make readers comfortable with the room you’ve given them on every page.
Kick it up a notch. Most flippers add a star feature to their homes, whether it’s a Jacuzzi, a set of French doors or some kick-butt appliances, because these are the bits that get people buzzing about a property. What sells your story? What’s going to make people talk? Juicy secrets, an illicit affair? Whatever it is, make it stand out.
Know your market. Flippers know they shouldn’t spend too much on a house or they won’t make the profit they want; in fact, they could lose a crud-load of money fast. They also know what they reasonably can expect to make on a home in a particular neighborhood through research, by understanding the buyer. Who is your audience? Sci Fi, Romance, Fantasy, Children’s and Lit Fiction crowds will all expect something different from your offerings. Make sure you’re on the path to meeting those expectations or you may have trouble finding buyers.
Don’t forget the flowers…or the fresh towels in the bathroom. Little touches make for a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. Granted, not all stories are homey and welcoming, but the point still remains: details can make your setting more inviting to the reader.
Write on, all!