Cooking Up A Good Story




When I was a child, I had a problem with stretching the truth just a little bit, especially when doing so would help me avoid punishment from my father. When I would finish my “explanation” of events—the defense of my actions—he’d often say, “You sure cooked up a big one this time, didn’t you?”

Maybe storytelling does have some similarities to cooking.

Just this month, for example, my writing involved what one might call three culinary aspects. 

Now that I have written the last page of my next book, I am starting my rewrites. Starting on page one, I checked my list of ingredients, i.e. plot points. Were they all there? Did I add them in the correct order?

Next I trimmed the fat—those phrases, scenes, even chapters–that didn’t really go anywhere and didn’t lend to moving the story forward.

On the next run through, I focused on the spice, the sauce, asking myself if there was just enough to keep the story interesting for the reader.

After that, I closed up my file. I will let the story simmer for awhile. Although I will not actively work on it, I will use this time to let new thoughts/ideas come to the forefront, contemplating things that will improve the story and trashing those that won’t.

A few months from now, I will open the file and begin my second round of rewrites before giving it to my taste testers (beta readers) who will read it and give me their opinions which will be used for the final rewrite.

The next phase is up to the customers. Will they my latest recipe?

They say the “proof is in the pudding.”