How to cook up a novel

A Recipe for a novel

This recipe is for the most delicious, tastiest novel this century.  You will certainly have all your dinner guests licking their lips, salivating and begging for more.  Of course, you need to know who you are cooking up this delightful concoction for.  If it’s only for you to eat, you can play around with the ingredients to your heart’s content, experiment a little, go into the dark side and wallow in there for a while, but if it is for many guests then you probably need to stick to the recipe a little more.  Don’t deviate too much, otherwise the flavor might change and the aroma might be too pungent.  The tastiest novel is not so much about the style or the perfect use of metaphor or beautiful descriptions of the way the clock ticks slowly, but about the story.  And what makes a good story?  Why, the plot and the characters of course.

 Ingredients (This is what you need to shove into that chipped glass mixing bowl of yours!)

  • A huge dilemma/crisis/problem/conflict, the bigger the better.  Not too convoluted, as the dinner guest might lose interest as the twists and turns require too much concentration and your guest gets lost and gives up.  The dilemma has to be real enough to grab the guest so that they can connect with it, and not too far-out that they can’t identify with it at all that they lose interest.  You’ll have to taste little bits every now and then to ensure you have just the right amount.  This is the tricky bit.  The plot has to unravel sequentially.  Remember, your dinner guest is there to eat up your novel, not develop a stress migraine.  You should stick to the basic format of a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • A good setting.  If you think of anyone from a book or your life, they’re always in a context.  They always come with a setting, a certain place and time, plus a whole lot of baggage clustered around them.  Any character in your novel must have some sort of a backdrop.  This makes them more believable.  Rather than relying on interior monologues and streams of consciousness which could alter the flavor of your dish considerably, and slow it down somewhat, it’s often more effective simply to subtly slip in a telling detail about a the place where the character’s hanging around, and show how they interact with their environment.
  • A few sub-plots to build up intrigue and make your dinner guest cry out in ecstasy or horror.  Either way, you want to get a reaction from them.  You want them to feel it, that cornucopia of tastes, sensations.  Little interactions and conflicts between some of your other characters, their interactions with the protagonist.  This helps make it all the more real.  Nobody has a week without any kind of conflict at all, however minor.  Life is all about solving conflicts.
  • A point of view to maneuver your guest into the world you have created.  Your guests are handing over all their sensory faculties to you.  You have absolute control of them, and everything they experience is governed by what you choose to show or tell them.  And to do this well, you have to decide whether you are going to use a first person, second person, third person, or multiple persons.   Whichever point of view you decide with, you need to stick with.  Swapping viewpoints is like hopping from red, to white, sweet wine, to dry, in one meal.  You risk losing your guest, making them so inebriated that they no longer know if they are Arthur or Martha.
  • A few great characters and a mouth-watering protagonist.  Without character, there can be no novel, no matter how great the plot.  The best protagonist is someone we can identify with for the duration of the meal.  What makes a character interesting is not how the world impacts on them, but how they impact on the world.  This is how the character develops.  Only describing things that happen to your characters make them one-dimensional.    Making your characters do and say things in an engaging way, giving them reasons, motivations and conflicts is what makes them three-dimensional and more believable.  You want your dinner guests to talk about your characters at other dinner parties.
  •  Seasonings, add at your discretion, but do add some otherwise your recipe might turn out bland and leave your guests with no taste in their mouths.  Some spice is always good, a little bit of sex to get the guests’ hormones going, action to give them a bit of an adrenalin rush; it tends to make the meat tenderer and easier to chew on.  Salt and pepper are always essential.  Good realistic dialogue, descriptions.  A dash of herbs to add some color, maybe a slightly eccentric character with strange foibles.  A bit of chili which could be suspense, humor or both.

Method of preparation (Knowing the order in which you mix the ingredients)
Prepare your chipped glass mixing bowl, your work space where you’ll mix your ingredients.  First come up with the problem, the dilemma.  Then add in the setting.  Come up with some interesting characters.  Write some character sketches first, know how they will think and act in different situations.  It is only when you know how your character is expected to act, that you can introduce the element of surprise which definitely adds to the flavor of this recipe.  Once you have your characters, add in the sub-plots and mix.  Introduce the point of view and leave your concoction to stand for a while. 

Transfer your concoction to a big black cauldron, and put it onto a slow heat.  Stir carefully while cooking the ingredients, and slowly add in the seasoning, stirring after each type of seasoning is added.  Stay vigilant and engaged, watching carefully that the liquid doesn’t evaporate so that your concoction is dried out and gets caught and burned out on the bottom.  Do not let yourself get distracted from the novel you are cooking up. 

Garnish and serve creatively on your best plates.  The presentation is important, so check the spellings, punctuation, edit, revise and edit again.  Your dinner guests will be back for more if you have taken care of their needs, which is flavor and presentation.  You want them to leave satisfied, so that they tell other potential guests about the wonderful meal they had with you.

 

 

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Comments 28 comments

ralwus 6 years ago

My bowl is not only chipped, it is cracked. But you have done well my friend. xox Charlie


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Charlie, you are my main man! I think my bowl is a little warped as well.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Good information. Thank you.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Into my slowly bubbling pot this one goes! Wonderful and useable advice - thanks.

Love and peace

Tony


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

Really enjoyed this. My bowl is getting moldy in the closet.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

This is really good and helpful, but you left out one thing: how to deal with dialogue. I'm writing fiction for the first time and am having a little difficulty with the dialogue. Any genertal suggestions so it won't seem contrived, even though it is. :=) Thanks, Cindy


ralwus 6 years ago

alekhouse, there is a guy here that has much to say on that subject. I'll get you his link.


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Great novel recipe cindyvine, and you seem to have been cooking up a storm recently. My novel has been bubbling away on the hob for too long - I need to throw in some herbs and bring it to the boil!


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you cindy, dear heart for a most delicious undertaking of a spicy novel hub. Appreciate your infornmation and advice. Godspeed. creativeone59


parrster profile image

parrster 6 years ago from Oz

Thanks, that was exceptional, flavoursome and filling. Beats junk food any time.

I'm book marking this for my current and future recipes.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hello Hello, g'day to you!

Tony mac, as long as you don't get the toil and trouble with the bubble lol.

Suzie, what the hell is that bowl doing getting mouldy in the closet? Get it out now!

Alekhouse, I'll email you some dialogue tips, okay?

Ralwus, put that link here.

Hypno, spice up that novel and serve it!

Creativeone, glad you enjoyed my spicy recipe!

Parrster, much better than junk food, you're right! Lol


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Cinyvine, I think your recipe should work as you didn't seem to leave our any ingredients for a great story. Nice hub. Thanks. for the great advice.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Clever, well done :-)


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Pam, here's a drink of wine to go with the recipe! Cheers!

Ta muchly De Greek!


oneputt 6 years ago

A great hub should always make one's personal bookmark click. This is one of those. Thanks!


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Terrific hub, and I bookmarked it, too!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Well crafted, interesting hub with great advice! Very enjoyable read :D


sagebrush_mama 6 years ago

Fun hub...love the way you describe the process!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Oneputt, thanks for the compliment!

Paradise, you make me blush.

Enelle, glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful

Sagebrush, yeah it's all in the way you say things, eh?


kj8 profile image

kj8 6 years ago from Australia

Thanks for the advice, I love finding out how other people go about writing.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

We definitely learn from others, Kj8!


2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Delicious advice and served up in such at attractive manner.

We really like this Hub and have rated it UP.


emievil profile image

emievil 6 years ago from Philippines

Great hub Cindy. You're definitely making me hungry for more :).


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks ladies!

Emievil, I make myself hungry!


Aussieteacher profile image

Aussieteacher 6 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

What a great hub. Well done.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks Aussieteacher!


pinkhawk profile image

pinkhawk 6 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

...this makes me hungry! haha!I think, I really need to learn how to cook...thank you for this recipe ma'am!:)


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Pinkhawk, you need to try my awesome cheescake recipe as well hahaha

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