Today my husband is hosting an appreciation dinner for his clients. It will be a simple pork chop bar-b-que at the community building with much discussion on farming and the upcoming harvest. My job is simple enough, I hand out door prizes and smile to those arriving. It's tradition by now. My "official" job came earlier ~ I provided all the desserts!
Every year I stock up on flour, eggs, oil and sugar before I even decide what I plan to make. Those ingredients are the staples of baking. And as I started preparing my fourth cake yesterday, I realized how basic ingredients can be whipped into such various delights. Writing is pretty much the same.
Every writer needs the basics: a plot, characters, setting and CONFLICT. Without those four components the story will not develop. They can be twisted or flattened in numerous ways, but they have to hold together to support whatever is going to happen in the future.
And the timing has to be worked out. Timing is important to a baker and just as significant in building a story. I certainly didn't want a gooey cake to serve today, undone and unfit to eat; nor did I want to offer one that stayed too long in the oven. Burned and dried is not my goal. So timing is critical. Good timing needs to be paced out beforehand, decided upon in a tried and true manner. Hopefully it will be a delight to the reader, but never to the writer! Great pacing of a story takes work, diligent work and is something not to be rushed. Practice makes timing happen. In baking, I simply set the timer and voila` a confectioners delight materalizes from the oven. Not so easy with writing.
A great way to learn about pacing and timing is to read, read and read some more. See how the ones before you made this happen. Timing is an art and needs to be learned just as punctuation needs to be conquered. Adding frills and chills may be intended to be exciting, but if not delivered in a timely fashion it will fall short of its goal.
Have you ever taken a bite of some beautiful cake only to discover it's taste didn't match up with your expectations? The baker missed the mark somehow. His timing was off, his basic ingredients couldn't support his fancy decorations. Chances are you will not finish that piece of cake. Nor will you talk highly of his expertise. The same works for writers.
Be sure your story has a fresh plot, intriguing characters, settings that drop your readers right into the midst of things and plenty of real conflict. Your reader will continue on, devouring every page to the timely conclusion. And if you're really lucky they will spread the word, "you have got to read this book ..."
Now that's a tasty treat any way you look at it!
Til next time ~