Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cake Writing Series Part 1--Tools of the Trade

As I baked and decorated for three days straight, my mind wandered. It often does that, but this time I wrote down a few notes from those wanderings. Do you realize that you can relate anything to the writing process.

Wait a minute! Did you say anything?
Yes, anything.
I'll get you, and it'll look like a bloody accident.

Bonus points if you know where that quote comes from.

Ok, back to the post. By the end of this series you'll be able to bake and decorate your own wedding cake and write about it too. LOL! I think I need a little more sleep, cause I'm crackin' myself up. When I read this tomorrow I'll realize I rambled on without making any sense at all.

*sigh* When you bake a cake you need certain tools of the trade. When you write a novel you need tools of the trade. Today I'm going to compare a few of them. This is in no way a complete list of tools, and they are sort of out of order, but it will still work. So, let's get started by gathering our tools: (All pictures are from Google images )

1a. Pans of all shapes and sizes. This gives you the freedom to bake exactly what you want to make. Square, round, heart, star, cupcakes, flowers, SpongeBob SquarePants, whatever. There are lots of pans to choose from. Mixing and matching allows you to get creative and come up with new designs.

1b. Pens, pencils, notebooks, desktop computers, laptops, Scrivener or yWriter, MS Word, or whatever word processing program you use. The choice is entirely personal. I mostly write on my laptop in word. This is just habit more than anything, but I like yWriter (free) and plan to use it when I start the next novel. It just isn't worth cutting and pasting each scene into it for the current wip. If I ever upgrade to a Mac, I'll buy Scrivener. It sparkles. I'm very visual and it's visually appealing.

I also keep a variety of pens and notebooks stashed everywhere. Sometimes I use them to get past writer's block. Mostly they are there so I can write down thoughts, ideas, sentences, dialogue, whatever pops into my mind when I'm cooking, cleaning, or generally trying to pretend I'm not an obsessed writer type personality. Plus, I like the way the words flow onto the paper when I write with a good pen. I don't think I could write an entire novel this way though, because I would dread sitting down to type it all up at the end.

2a. Mixers and ovens--needed to mix the ingredients until smooth and the oven "solidifies" if you will, all that has been mixed. See where this is going? :)

2b. Our brains and imaginations. Without our imaginations, we would be just like everyone else. So what if it makes us a bit odd, a bit eccentric at times. I'm glad my brain lets me play in other worlds, make amazing friends, and survive adventures I'd never get to participate in for real life.
3a. Recipes. We all need to know where to start. I usually tweak all my recipes to meet the needs and likes of my particular family.

3b. Rules of grammar and story structure. Although we would like to throw some of these rules out the window, they guide us on the way to publication. Readers expect certain things in a story. Such as a beginning with setup, a middle with conflict, and an ending with resolution. They hope for strong characters that they can like and a plot that surprises them in spots and eventually answers all their questions.

4a. Spatulas, bags, tips. You put icing in the bag and it funnels down through the tip. That tip will effect the shape of the icing as it comes out.

4b. Words, sentences, punctuation. As writers we live in a world of words. The crafting comes as we funnel them into sentences with meaning. Punctuation is the tip that shapes the feel of the sentences.

5a. Tasters. When people taste your cake, they will tell you if they like it or not. Depending on their comments, you may tweak the recipe, or scrap it and start all over.

5b. As writers we NEED critique partners. Our stories and characters are so alive in our own minds that we fill in the blanks as we read the words on the page. How will we know if our love for our characters made it to the page if no one reads it? Critique partners (alpha or beta) can tell us where the recipe is working, where we need to tweak it.

And finally...

6a. Eaters. Why make a cake if no one is going to eat it? When I make a cake for someone, I ask them what flavors they like. Then I make the cake with them in mind.

6b. Readers. Our audience. You can not write a book without thinking about who will read it. A young adult novel is different than one for adults. Science fiction attracts a different group of people than historical fiction (yes there are some of us who devour everything, but you know what I mean). This audience must always be in the back of your mind.

Now that we know some of the tools we need, we can start baking a time.