I came up with the original idea for With Perfect Clarity while pondering how ghosts work. I was thinking about how ghosts often haunt the house they died in, then thought: what if that house was destroyed? Would the ghost be free to find another house? What if the ghost was bound to the original house, even if that house no longer existed?
I had no idea this would turn into a novel. Also, I hope that this isn’t how being a ghost works, because if it is there must be an awful lot of angry ghosts out there.
Once I got a little further along with my book, I decided I needed to put some thought into the layouts for the two houses. The original house that Emma was murdered in burned down, and the house that exists when Emma meets Ashley overlaps the foundation of the original building, but it’s not an exact match. Because Emma can sense both the walls/doors of the original house and those of the house in the present, it was important that I knew where they were.
I searched around and found some house plans for real houses from the 1800s, so I used those as a starting point. The houses in the novel aren’t exactly the same, but it was very helpful to look at similar houses. Here are the exterior views from the real plans:
And here are the layouts:
(Unfortunately I don’t have the original document, just these images, so I can’t reference the source.)
Based on these plans, I came up with a working version of the two houses in the novel. Here are the first floors for the two houses overlaid on top of one another.
I used that as a guideline, so don’t expect it to be 100% accurate…but it was immensely helpful. Not only did I need to make sure the old and new walls didn’t wander around, I also had to think about things like where the furniture was, and which wall was the west wall. After I put this together and reviewed my manuscript I found several places where I had unintentionally moved a wall or a door, so it was definitely worth the time to draw this all out.
Next time I should probably lay everything out earlier, but I’m pretty sure I won’t. 🙂 It is a pain to have to look for inconsistencies later, but I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time drawing out maps, then start writing only to find that the characters leave that scene in chapter 2. Not knowing all the details is part of the fun of writing!