The other night I was watching a Chopped rerun on the Food Network. I love this show. Four chefs have to make an appetizer, entree, and dessert with four different items in their baskets for each course. Each round is timed and judged on taste, presentation, and creativity. At the end of each round, the cook with the lowest score gets chopped from the line-up. Last chef standing is the winner.
It's like every cook's nightmare. It's time to make dinner. You haven't been shopping in a week, and dinner will be whatever is in the fridge. You pull open the door, and the only four items inside don't go together. At all. And there isn't enough of any one thing to make a meal of.
As I watched, I wondered why I'd never before thought the whole making a meal thing is a bit like writing a novel. We combine things that, on the surface, don't really fit together, add herbs and spices, some TLC, and produce a finished piece.
The Appetizer is the Hook
Full of zing and just enough to make the reader turn the page.
The Protein is the Protagonist
Seasoned well, maybe a little spicy, with layer after layer of flavors.
The Vegetables are the Secondary Characters
These add more texture and taste to your story while complementing the protagonist.
The Starch is the Main Sub-Plot
You know the one I mean ... the one readers have to follow because it's so yummy.
The Sauce is the Antagonist
Concentrated and rich. A little goes a long way.
The Dessert is the Denouement
Everything comes together and the story, like the meal, feels complete.
The next time you prepare dinner, think about how the steps work in your manuscript. Maybe you'll get a new idea or two.
Or maybe you'll just be happy you enjoyed a good meal.
Either way, win-win.