Monday, May 19, 2014

How to Cook a Book

My friend Suzanne Warr tagged me in a blog hop where writers share their writing process. Well, I got to thinking about it, as I am still figuring it out, and my process has been changing. Instead of giving you a mishmash of all the different things I try, I will give you my current recipe. While it doesn't look like the picture exactly, the process should give you several layers by the time it's done.

cake eat dessert

How to Cook a Book 
(And Not Get in Trouble with the IRS)

One idea, either from a dream or grown in a shower. Can be half-baked as long as there is room for full bakeage.

About a half dozen plot points, three of which should be whole.

Huge bottle of water/flavored water (Diet Dr. Pepper for the tricky moments)

One laptop computer, fully charged

One copy of Scrivener, installed

A batch of story (see On Writing by Stephen King, K.M. Weiland's or David Farland's books for good recipes)

One copy of Word, installed (preferably fresh, but use the best out of what you can find. Sometimes the more ripened ones are better).

One Evernote app installed on a smart phone* (optional)

Directions: Take one idea (thaw if it's been in the freezer for a while as this makes it easier to work with), knead for a while, then set aside to rise. 

While the idea is rising, fill the bottle of water, or if the idea is really slow to take shape, use Diet Dr. Pepper or flavored water. I find this helps the idea to meld with the rest of the ingredients a little faster.

Set the water next to the laptop. Take the idea and put it into your installed copy of Scrivener. I've had success forming it into a first chapter.

While the idea is resting, take the half dozen plot points. Set aside the whole ones, and chop the remainder into pieces. They don't need to be uniform, but each should be large enough to give a nice bite of flavor in the finished product. Then, open Scrivener, choose "novel format," and arrange the large plot points on a nice, blank page you will call "Outline." Space these apart--one at the beginning, one at the middle, and one at the end. If you don't have one quite large enough for the end, or if you have several whole ones to choose from, you can wait to add the last one until you are nearly done with the recipe.

Next, take the smaller pieces of plot points and arrange them artfully between the whole ones. If they look a bit wonky, that's okay.

Begin pouring the batch of story onto the idea. There is no need to be careful about this. The faster you pour the story on, the better. Just make sure you do it evenly so there's enough story to cover the whole outline of plot points, and stay inside the program. Overflow is incredibly sticky and tough to clean up. 

Take a spatula and smooth out the uneven parts. Once over should be fine. 

Let sit at room temperature for at least two weeks. Four if you can. Smooth over again. Then transfer to Word for ease of carrying, and deliver to the chefs who will critique your creation.

Once you get the critique back, it's time to bake that puppy. Fire up the computer to as hot as it will go, and shove your mixture in until it's shiny, full of flavor, and rich. If it sounds hollow when tapped, it's not yet done.

While you wait for it to be finished, you might consult a master chef for pointers, and a decorator, depending on what your plans are for the end product.

Serve warm or chilled. Some like chocolate, sunflower seeds, or herbal tea on the side.

*During the process, an app like Evernote can come in handy to keep those bits of idea that might show up where you least expect them to be. Paper and pencil traps them well, too, but I never have a flashlight handy to see those puppies at night.


Evelyn said...

We LOVE Evernote around here, though I've never used it for writing purposes.

Suzanne Warr said...

I love your recipe--and I'm betting the end product is a true delight! Thanks for playing, and good luck whipping up a tasty batch!

Larsen said...

SO FUN! That was really a fun little read! I loved the idea of it all....