Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Recipe of a Good Novel

My husband has a chili-cookoff at work today and has been scouring the Internet for JUST the right recipe to WOW his coworkers.

Last night, he finally settled on one, I went to the store and got the billion ingredients needed and put it together, and, well, we shall see how it goes today! Thank the Lord for Crockpots!

When looking for a recipe, he was looking for a few key things that he really wanted in his chili.

1.) PEPPERS!!! My hubby LOVES spicy things and loves a good mix of peppers, so he wanted to find something with a flare of spice and just the right mix.

2.) CROCKPOT!!! Because of our schedule, we needed to slowcook this thing, and some recipes are made better for that than others.

3.) NO BEANS!!! Hubby HATES chili with beans.

4.) BACON!!! Bacon makes everything a little better, right?

Well... he didn't really find the exact recipe he wanted, but he found one pretty close, he just had to tweak a few things.

Writing is a bit like this.

We have basic ingrediants that are in ALL novels... but it is the little bits of extra that make it stand out. But many times, those things that make it unique also make it appeal to some and not to others.

But... if you just make plain chili... well, that is a big boring, eh?

Same with a novel. You can write a very basic novel, very basic, elementary plot, but it'd be a take it or leave it story.

What are the basic ingredients to a novel?

  • Of course, you have a main character or two.
  • A secondary character or two or twelve.
  • A main conflict
  • Main goals/motivation
  • A black moment
  • A satisfying ending
But it is the flavoring around these things that make your book SOAR!

Do you have a dash of suspense, or maybe you have a whole cup?

A heap of romance, or just a pinch?

A sprinkling of humor, or do you pour the whole bag full in?

Sometimes we have things we do NOT like in a book. As writers in the CBA as many of us are,  graphic "sex" scenes is one of them, or profanity.

Whatever your recipe, whatever your flavor, make it YOURS. But be careful...

Too many peppers can make your reader scream and throw your book and run for a glass of water...

And too much cheese can give them a bad case of indigestion.

Discussion: What are you favorite ingredients for YOUR novel?


Lisa Jordan said...

Chili with no beans??? That's like the main staple! :)

My favorite ingredients in a novel are flavorful characters and a generous dose of romance with a pinch of spice.

Fun post! Hope your hubby does well!

Krista Phillips said...

Lisa... As I am NOT a fan of ANY chili (I guess in the analogy, I prefer movies... HA!) the bean thing has no matter, LOL. But my hubby is adement about not having them.

Funny, the recipe he found was from a guy and he had a "optional bean" method because he says it is the only way his wife will eat it, but he prefers no beans.

So maybe it is a guy thing!

I'm with you... a dose of romance is ALWAYS a good ingredient for me in a novel I am reading! As is a nice, hunky hero. YUM! *wink*

Jeanne T said...

What a fun post, Krista! And I'm with Lisa--no beans?! Wow, if that recipe turns out, send it my way. My oldest kiddo doesn't like beans. :)

The ingredients for a great novel for me are characters I care about, a great story line and a Happily Ever After. A dash of romance or suspense is always nice seasoning.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Oh Krista! Your posts always make me smile! What a great analogy! I love the flavoring aspect that makes each novel unique!

I wonder what my secret ingredient is?

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Cute post, Krista!

I love the analogy. I like a hearty helping of romance, with a big hunk of suspense poured in and melted through. A little sweetness is always good (especially when we are talkin' chocolate) but for novels (and chili) I prefer it heavier on the sass and spice. I feel like those are more dynamic and create more memorable characters. Also more fun to write! :)