Building a Story is a Lot Like Building a Road

There is a new bypass around Calgary. In the eight short years I’ve been a neighbor to the oldest part of the bypass, it has gone from a mile or two in length on the west side of town, to three-quarters of the way around the city.

a-stoney trail edits

Road Editors at Work

The road is still being built but the open parts are constantly being maintained and improved. Even near us, they’re adding an overpass and adding a parallel bridge spanning the Bow River on the oldest part of the whole road. Everything is being updated.

I realized this morning that I’m building a road with my books and stories. I first started out with one book. One story with some back stories. The book was just a small section of the big picture.

Then I opened up a new section of my story-road. The second book written took place before the first but it really opened up the possibility for new stories to be added which took place even before that and before I knew it, I was adding another section. And then another.

My road was extending itself as I worked backward in time. It wasn’t just a small road telling a small story. That’s all. The End. It was part of something big.

While I was building edits and smoothing out improvements in the new parts, fleshing out the characters’ stories by adding ramps and side roads, I realized that the original story hadn’t been built firmly enough; it had developed plotholes in what was once a smooth road.

The intersection between what had once been the last two stories really needed a massive change. The stoplight created a stumbling block, stopping the reader from continuing on and discovering the whole story. The stop light had to go.

a-stoney trail road closed

Writer’s Block

I experienced a road closure while I worked out the details.

An overpass seemed the logical solution. While adding that overpass, the story shifted. The facts in my old road didn’t line up perfectly with the new road. Something had to be done.

Eventually, my road will take my readers full circle and the series will be a circular story, one which has many entrances and side the stories could flow together. Adding a story-overpass meant I had to add a new bridge, and when that new bridge was finished, the roads lined up. Parts had to be completely bulldozed while keeping the story-road going in the right direction. New plot lines had to be painted on the fresh pavement of the story, all leading to the same original ending.

a-stoney trail - nose hill dr now

Smoothing out the Story

Every day, I navigate through the construction zones carefully, knowing that in the end, the road will be a better drive. I realized how I’m improving the journey of Caleb and Ana and their adventures.