So, my family and I spent an hour of the morning stacking wood. It's not my idea of the best time I could ever have, but it's vigourous and splintery, and a good workout.
As I was tossing pieces of wood to my younger sister (not really tossing, just occasionally chucking a piece to check her reflexes), I thought that writing was rather similar to harvesting wood for the winter.
See, you start with a tree, which is like a wonderful glorious story idea in your mind. Then you cut the tree down, to see how it looks from a different angle, much as you plot up different story scenarios to figure how best the story would flow. Then you cut the tree into lengths, like you cut up the storyline into different chapters, to get an idea as to how much story is hiding in those lengths.
Next, once you've loaded the "chapters" onto your truck and brought them home, you split them into logs, opening them up to see how fruitful the ideas are. Then, you throw all the wood into a pile and let it age, like a good idea has to be mulled over a little bit in order for it to work.
Then comes the stacking. You go through the pile of wood, your ideas, good and bad, that are all thrown together. Gnarly, knotty pieces of wood, or splinters, or bark bits, all the pieces of wood that are impossible to stack, you lay aside for later. Smooth, square bits, perfect stacking wood, you lay neatly in rows on the deck. The neat rows are your sentences. The occasional odd piece of wood that is perhaps slightly too long or slightly too short are your plot changes. The odd gnarled bits that you plop on top of all the good rows are your climaxes and twists of plot.
In the end, they all create one thing: a wonderful roaring fire of a story that you can enjoy every evening during winter...and hopefully with a story, every evening of the summer, as well.