I’m sure this comparison has been made before, but as I was shuffling through my recipe box looking for an idea for dinner, it made me realize that writing a book is a lot like following a recipe.
First you need the ingredients: setting, characters, goal, conflict, motivation. Then there are the seasonings: sometimes you add a little bit of spice, sometimes you add a lot. The most basic direction would be to combine all of the above. Whether you blend, whisk, or beat everything together depends on what type of story you’re writing. Sometimes you follow the recipe (synopsis, outline) exactly. Sometimes you wing it as you go, giving into instict and if it ‘feels’ right.
Sometimes the story turns out just as you imagined it, like when the finished dish looks just like the picture on the recipe card. Sometimes, some serious tweaking needs to happen. Shuffle the ingredients, a little more of this, a little less of this; “taste” as you go, maybe even offering a few samples to a critique partner for some feedback. Sometimes, the story turns out completely different than you thought, but it’s fabulous just the same. Sometimes it’s not quite done when you take it out of the oven and you need to put it back in: rewrites and revisions and editing.
For the writer, part of the enjoyment is in the process. Creating something from a few seemingly unrelated ingredients. Sometimes we use the microwave and wind up with a finished product quickly. Sometimes we use the slow cooker or let things simmer for a while. When our story is finished, a contract is the icing on the cake. From there the end result varies. Sometimes we get a five-star dinner or a best seller. Sometimes we get diner fare…which can be just as good. It’s all a matter of taste.
Until next time,
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