Recipe for Fabulous Fiction

I’m not famous for my cooking–although my family tells me I serve a mean Southern fried chicken. But I have worked for years on this dish. I was frustrated until I learned one key thing about fixing good fried chicken: you have to get the oil sizzling hot before you fry. As I gain more experience with writing, I’m more convinced than ever that good writing is a lot like good cooking: it’s delicious, you can’t get enough and it depends a lot on the ingredients and how/when/where/why they’re added.
Writing Tip for Today: In fiction, the ingredients include scenes and components of scenes, sequels, character desires and obstacles, emotion, setting and much more. The point is that a writer may have all the correct ingredients, but unless they are presented in the right proportions, at the right time and with the appropriate motivation, the novel may not work. As you would pay special attention to certain parts of a recipe, like getting the oil hot enough, most good novelists learn to provide these things:

  • A character with a strong motivation for attaining a goal.
  • A setting and time period.
  • At least one Point of View, or narrator.
  • Scenes with gobs of Concrete Sensory Details.
  • Sequels or narrative bits that let readers catch their breath or provide essential info between scenes.
  • Worthy Obstacles.
  • A Pace that is neither too fast or slow.
  • A Climax that is the acme of tension in the story.
  • A satisfying Resolution.

As you work on your novel writing skills, pay attention to the balance of ingredients. Too much of one thing and too little of another and the chicken will be soggy, undercooked or black beyond recognition. When the novel is balanced and paced just right, readers will come back for seconds, thirds and beyond.
Next week: I’ll be featuring author Lydia Harris’ book on grandparenting (so cool as I eagerly await the birth of my first grandchild in a couple of weeks) and we’ll hear from Cheryl Martin, telling us about her writing journey and how she just landed her first contract for a middle grade fiction series. Her story is encouraging, so don’t miss it.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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