What’s Cooking?

Writing a novel is hard work. Having a natural affinity for the process is, I’m sure, a gift, but just having the gift isn’t enough. This week I’ve been looking at thumbnail descriptions of some novels by aspiring authors. Without having read their complete manuscripts it’s impossible to be certain, but I’ve read complete unpublished manuscripts before. There are tell-tales. My intuition gives me hints about the weaknesses in what I’m reading.

Here’s an analogy:

You want to bake a cake. So okay, you know what goes into a cake. You get a big bowl. You pour in some flour, some baking powder, some sugar and salt. Toss in a stick of butter and a couple of eggs. Pour in some milk. Then put the bowl in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

That’s pretty much what aspiring novelists do. It never occurs to them that they need to break the eggs, separate out the egg whites, whip the egg whites, and blend the ingredients. What matters is not just the ingredients. What matters, if you care at all about the result, is the process through which you combine and prepare your ingredients.

You can’t write a novel without breaking eggs.

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