15 October 2013

Cook a Book

Been a while (sorry), but I've had stubborm characters to deal with.

Today's recipe is how to cook a book - That's right: COOK A BOOK!

For those of you that love the kitchen as much as I do, this will be easy to undersatnd. And for the rest,well perhaps I can invite a smile.

Much the same as there are generally two types of writer, so too are there two types of cooks. Actually there is a whole lot more, but let's stick to two for the sake of simplicity. In various forums and with people I meet, I am always asked to categorise my writing style: outline or wing?
That got me thinking, and after continuous spells of writing, I have a fair idea. I do both.
Being fortunate that story ideas land on the doorstep of my mind like the morning paper, so too do recipes. But it is not as 'cast in stone' as that, at least not for me anyway.

Let's go shopping!

At the supermarket you can see outine or wing-it people from a mile away. The outline shopper is structured and meticulous. Ingredients required are scribbled on a piece of paper or appear as a page on their iPad. But they follow it to a tee. Marching in, they would look at their watch and start a mental timer. Eye's don't browse, they scan; and wing-it shoppers always get in their way. Items are selected, placed in the hand basket, and then they're off to the checkout.
The wingers are different. Time would be taken to mull over the thoughts and ideas while their children polish the tiled floors of the store by sliding around. A pose resmbling someone at an art gallery is taken while they browse the shelves. Picking up an item and putting it back again would frustrate some, but to them it is the same as paging through a magazine. Look, read, page back, and then decide. With the basket full of an array of products, they suddenly realise how much time has passed and head for the exit. Oh, yes, they also usually spend a few minutes looking for the floor polishers they walked in with.

Even though I previously mentioned that there were generally two categories of writers (or cooks), I like to think that most fall into a third category: a mixture of both.
I too have have trailing little ones that are dead-set on seeing how well the floors are polished; however, they inspire my cooking as much as they contribute to my writing. Writing romance involves people, and people either have kids of their own or know someone with children. Why refer to the little people? Each child is totally different, has differnet tastes, and most definitely a unique personality. So when planning a chapter or a meal, I involve them. And even though the eventual choice usually ends in a game of rock-paper-scissors, the outcome pleases all.

So how does this relate to telling a story? The fact is, a story has a main ingredient (the plot), the final taste (the heart-moving ending), and then the preparation which is the body of the story. My cooking is the same. Whether their choice be fish, chicken, steak, or even plain old beans on toast; the outcome has to be spot on to get the best reviews. And believe me, these little mouths are tough to please!

Now in writing, I use the same approach. Ideas turn into mental groceries, outcome is an ultimate goal, but the preparation is the most rewarding. Characters are introduced, clothed, personalised, and very often end up in a similar game of rock-paper-scissors to see what would suit them best. They grow, aromatise, share a glass of wine; but they are the spice that determines whether the end product is seven-course or a simple burger and chips. So plan your outline, but wing your characters - works for me.

Writing is a business, yes. But who says it can't be fun at the same time?

Add a comment? Go for it!

1 comment:

  1. Writers often talk about how they let their characters speak to them and how they listen to where they want to go. (Of course, we don't always agree with their choices. LOL) No two characters react the same with each other, and the different combinations are endless. So the characters being the spice of the story is a great analogy!