Recipe for a Novel
My uncle’s Aga
Writing a novel is rather like cooking. Both need a list of ingredients and a method to put the elements together to produce a successful outcome. Sometimes whilst cooking, I try different ingredients or cook without a recipe. Sometimes that works and other times I need to throw it away and go and buy a bag of chips.
There are basic elements to writing a novel that cannot be over-looked, and I’m revisiting them now because I feel I’m going astray in my current WIP.
The novel follows the curvature of an arc. It starts with the situation at the start of the novel which has the task of hooking the reader, agent or publisher. It sets the scene for the reader before moving onto the trigger which sets the story-wheel in motion.
Once the story is in motion, the protagonist is given a quest of either seeking something, changing something within society or within themselves, or finding something or someone.
During this quest, something unexpected must happen to hinder the protagonist’s progress. This can add an element of surprise or frustration for the reader – and sometimes the author! This can cause the protagonist to do something out of the ordinary for themselves or cause them to make a mistake, worsening the original situation. This worsening leads to a climax, pushing the protagonist to their moral or physical limits.
The climax then leads to a shift in the original situation, where now the reader finds calm, restitution and a satisfying – or not, as the case may be, genre wise – conclusion.
My current WIP has plenty of sub-plots, but I’m not convinced that my protagonist’s journey is strong enough for the reader to care about. If I’m not convinced then how am I going to convince the publisher that my novel is worth printing? I have interesting character’s and a common denominator that brings them all together, but there is an ingredient missing and I need to discover which element I have left out. Some days this quandary stresses me and I feel defeated, whereas other days I am spurred on by the challenge, knowing that sooner or later the recipe will come together to form a tasty story.
I hope that you find yourself cooking tasty stories that tickle your taste buds.But if you need to tweak the recipe, fear not, we all need to add a pinch of something at one time or another.
Happy Word Flow One & All