Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Publishing Doll House

There are a lot of houses in the publishing industry. I glanced through my personal library and saw these names on the spines of books: Random House, Bethany House, Charisma House, Portland House and my personal favorite, The Chicken House. If that wasn’t enough, Thomas Nelson’s logo is a house and they put it on the spine of pretty much every book they publish.

The Thomas Nelson house is a strange little house--four stories and an attic, but it’s a little bigger at the top than it is the bottom. It looks a little eerie. The one you see here isn’t their logo by a 3D image based on the drawing. It still looks eerie.

With all of these houses, I started to wonder just what kind of house this thing is. I’ve decided that it’s a doll house. You know how some children will play by making up things for their dolls or “action figures” to do? I had the little Lego men when I as a kid and I made up things for them to do. Isn’t that what novelist do? The characters in our books are nothing more than the toys we might have played with when we were children. Hopefully, we are much more sophisticated than we were then, but we still send our characters off on missions or into battle or jump them over ramps in their cars.

Just as when we were kids, we often come to points in our stories that we decide we don’t like how things are working out, so we go back and mess with our characters. We make them fat when they were skinny. We change their clothes or give them a different car. We kill their parents or bring them back to life and we do it with the stroke of a pen. Just like a girl playing with a doll house, we can make changes to our characters’ lives and then change everything back to the way it was.

In time, the characters start to come to life. They reach a point when we can no longer change them so easily. When that happens, perhaps it is finally time to move them out of our little play houses and try to find a place for them in on of the doll houses we see named on the spines of books.