poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘parts of a story

writing a novel – telling a story

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So the poet has decided to write a novel…


Title: unknown

Working Title: Saving the Landing Church

Setting: a writers’ retreat and an abandoned church

Characters: main character a writer (not a very successful writer)

Plot (a focusing statement): the story of how a woman tries to preserve an abandoned church with unexpected consequences for herself and for the community


Churches are like any building.  They require maintenance.  In these days of striving for energy efficiency, the maintenance may require expensive upgrades – better insulation, energy-efficient windows, calking to seal the cracks…

Unfortunately, maintenance of old buildings, including old churches, can be very expensive.  And the consequences of not maintaining or upgrading a building can be high energy costs, a leaky roof, rotting beams…

Eventually, many church congregations face a difficult decision.  Do they continue to try to maintain an older building in the face of difficult finances and declining attendance?  Or do they build a new building, or perhaps amalgamate with another congregation?

These decisions are especially difficult because churches are meaningful places to the community.  Sometimes generations of families have worshipped there.  They are places of weddings and funerals, baptisms and confirmations, Sunday School concerts and church suppers.  They are places of profound personal experience.  Sometimes, they are also the location of a graveyard where family members and loved ones are buried.  It is not easy for a community to let go of its older churches.

And what happens to an abandoned church?  Some are demolished, some are sold and perhaps re-purposed, some are retained by the congregation as a place for special celebrations.  Some are protected as heritage buildings.  Sometimes church buildings are sold and must be moved to a new location.

My novel will be about one such abandoned church.

As I have learned in the courses I have taken and in my reading, every good story is about someone who wants something, how the someone sets about achieving the goal, and the consequences of achieving the goal.  I have recently taken a course from Deborah Carr, an excellent writing coach (her website (Nature of Words) is at  She puts it this way: a story follows the pattern of Desire, Struggle, and Resolution.

My novel will be the story of how a woman tries to preserve an abandoned church by bringing it to a new home, with unexpected consequences for herself and for the community.

This will be a complex subject:

  • It will deal with the transformation of a space from a sacred to a secular use.
  • It will be a story about a community and one person’s relationship with the community.
  • And it will be a story about what constitutes the sacred.


Are there churches in your area that have been abandoned or re-purposed?


Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

December 3, 2012 at 7:42 am

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