My father and my uncles worked together to help each other build their houses. It’s too long ago to remember the details, but I recall each of them being skilled at one particular thing, and all of them able to do a little bit of everything.
I was three years old when Dad built our house, so I don’t have memories of the construction, but I do remember years later when my uncle built a duplex next door to us. The framework was up, and there were planks over cement block footers until the stoops were poured.
One day I angered my brother, and the chase was on. I was running to find Dad to save me, and I jumped onto the boards over one of the holes. The next thing I knew, I was bleeding in the basement. Once Dad knew I hadn’t broken anything in the fall, I got a whippin’ for the disruption to the work process. Ahhh … good memories.
But the best thing about those men building houses was the books. The books with drawings of houses and their floor plans. I spent hours poring over those books and dreaming about the house I would one day live in.
I still love floor plans, and I use them when I write.
When writing Windy City Hunter, I looked at condo floor plans before settling on one from a building I stayed in when visiting the city.
For my new book, Murder Under Construction, I chose a simple two-story home for my main character. I copied the floor plan and added my own information. It was a big help when I needed to reference direction, and it also helped me to remember what I had already written about the house.
For the book I’m writing now, I’ve been searching for Spanish-style homes. Floor plans are certainly more attractive than they were years ago.
I find it helps quite a bit to have actual houses and floor plans when I’m writing. It’s easier to envision my characters moving around in their homes. I’ve even printed hotel room layouts when my characters have stayed in hotels.
I’ve always used calendars, timelines, and maps when planning my books, but until I was searching for floor plans again, I didn’t realize how much I rely on them.
What about you? Do you make up your houses and floor plans in your head? Or do you go shopping for houses as I do?