Friday, July 2, 2010

Cake Writing--Part 5: Decorating, Set up and Summary

Let's wrap up this series. Also see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

After we've hidden the crumbs under a nice thick layer of icing and smoothed it out, we are ready to make it look pretty. Some cakes only require a simple border, others need more elaborate decorations. This cake left my hands looking like this. The mom was buying all kinds of cute firefighter things to decorate it with. I put a simple shell border to "frame" the cake and give her a place to spotlight the items she purchased.
Those little star flowers? They are covering up crumbs that stubbornly refused to stay hidden.

Now, a wedding cake needs a little more decorating and set up than this cake. For instance, when you stack a wedding cake, each tier requires support. Remember those tools? I cover cake boards cut to fit under the tier, and cut dowel rods. Each new level of cake requires it's own support system so that it doesn't sink into the layer below it. Some of these cakes are HEAVY! Here is an excellent website to show you how to do this. And go HERE if you want to stack and use separator plates.

Final set up is also important. What do you put around your cake? You could just set your cake on the table and call it good, but what if you add some nice little touches? (Cover art fits in here somewhere. Since we don't have a lot of control over that, I'm skipping right over it for today.)

Before we present our novel to an agent, and hopefully the rest of the world, we need to make sure everything is as smooth and perfect as possible. Critique groups can help each step of the way. Each tier needs support. Make sure every action, reaction, back story, and conversation has a purpose. Everything should work together to make a strong and beautiful work of art.

Set up of a cake is the scariest time. You are finished and you've laid it all out for others to see. You do this on your own (maybe a friend helps). The bride isn't there to oooh and aaah over it. At least none of my brides have ever been hanging around. Terror strikes as you wonder if it is good enough. Will they like it? At some point you have to say, "I did my best and that's enough."

I think this is how it's going to feel when I send out those first query letters. I'll do it alone. No one will be standing around to cheer and say positive things about the book. Email checking will become a new addiction. I'll wonder if it's good enough. Tears will probably become common as the rejections roll in, but at some point I hope I toughen up and realize that win or lose, I did my best.

And now, because I need to work on my summary so I'll be ready to query, here is a summary of this series.

Making beautiful wedding cakes or writing the next best seller is simple if you take the time to follow the steps and use the right tools.

Words, sentences, pens, computers, themes, plots, conflict, complex and compelling characters in rich settings that tantalize all the reader's senses are the tools and ingredients we work with. The combination we play with make our novel uniquely ours. We take the time to "bake" our ideas until they solidify into something we can work with. Trimming, shaping, cutting until we reach the desired size and shape.

Critique groups can help us survive and progress through the revising and editing stages. Together we pin down crumbs, smooth the icing, and decorate our stories. All the while making sure everything is supported and strong so it will stand.

Finally, we set it all up and send it out into the world. If we are lucky, the bride/agent comes to give us a hug and tells us how amazing she thinks the cake is. Or you get paid big bucks for all your hours of work. Personally, I want both.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!