Come Away With Me

Elements for writing a story:

2 or more hearty characters, preferably one with a problem in need of solving (you can proceed with 1 character, but with two there is possibility)
Peppering of quirks
1 major plot
½ dozen, more or less, sub plots
Multiple dashes of conflict
Heavy sprinkling of tension
Senses on the pages in equal parts:
1/3 touch
1/3 smell
1/3 sound
Believable dialogue
Just enough narrative
Adequate setting – too much and your readers get bored, not enough and your readers get lost

Not required, but helpful:

Unlimited patience
1 good chair
Belief in self
Support of family and friends (note: some friends may abandon you during the writing of a novel because you’re “no fun anymore and all you ever do is write”)
1 Dictionary
1 Thesaurus 
One ream of paper or 2-dozen blank moleskins (or journals of preference)
Time (scheduled, measured, managed, and respected)
Daily word limit
A room of your own

On a large blank canvas combine the essential ingredients, stir with equal parts vigor, passion, blood, sweat, and tears, in unquantifiable measurements. Note: The time required to complete is unique to the writer. The approach in which the writer mixes and stirs with vigor is unique to the writer. How the story unfolds on the page is unique to the writer. There is no class or how to book that auto-magically makes the words appear on the page. Only the writer sitting at his or her desk, hour after hour, day after day, until the story is complete, makes this happen. After mixing, place printed pages in a shoebox and store in a dark place for days, in some cases weeks, in rare cases, hours. When ready proceed to the next step.

Only proceed with this step when your head is clear, the heart is pure, the objectivity is solid. This phase will require the strength of Hercules, a heart of stone, a swift hand with a blade (or the delete key) to cut and chop, remove the backstory, the excess, the pretty little words that have nothing whatsoever to do with moving the story, the adverbs, the that’s, the passive verbs, and all the shite that sounded really good when you wrote it the first time, but makes no sense when you read it aloud. CHOP IT.   CAUTION:  This first attempt — often referred to as a draft — may often require a new blank canvas. In rare cases, a bottle of wine is required to face this fact. DON’T CRY. Keep calm and write on.

The above measurements are not exact and merely a suggestion based on personal experience, loss of friends, numerous bottles of wine, several blank canvases, a new chair, two computers, endless journals for notes, software, unnecessary funds spent on writing books with jacket descriptions which lured and promised me candy and a book in a month if I forked over $18.95.

At the end of your journey — perhaps 100,000 words give or take — you’ll have a story as unique as you are, one only you could write. You’ll walk around the place where you live in awe of yourself. You’ll be amazed. You will be. You’ll shout to the moon. Tears of joy will run down your pale cheeks. You’ll dance a jig. You’ll tell the check out clerk at Safeway, your hairdresser/barber, your great aunt Tootie, even you best friend from second grade, Elvira, about the book. Some will smile, some will say, “WOW,” some will wonder if you’ve lost your mind and remind you of the missed episodes of Dancing with the Stars. Some will even go so far as to ask, why.

You might even wonder the same thing. After all, those lost hours spent in front of the computer will not bring you instant fame and fortune (that might require a few more books and a heavy sprinkling of Tinker Bell’s fairy dust). Something in you will know there is no answer that will satisfy the person asking the question. How do you explain the sublime, the surreal, and the burning passion to create from inside of yourself?  Personally, I shrug. If pressed, I say, because it was the only way to quiet the voices in my head. Of course, they run for the hills when I say that, but I don’t mind. I mean, I don’t ask them why they watch reality television when they could be writing.  Fair is fair. 

How did you feel when you’ve accomplished something big <insert your own description for big>?

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I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

34 thoughts on “Come Away With Me

  1. rimly

    That was some awesome recipe. I am sure it will be a hit for anyone who attempts it. Love your unique style of writing, Brenda

  2. Dear Brenda,

    Delightful! I’m inspired by your creativity with this piece!

    My favorite part is the CHOP paragraph — IMO more writer’s need to get this 😉

    I also love this: “At the end of your journey… you’ll have a story as unique as you are, one only you could write. You’ll walk around the place where you live in awe…You’ll be amazed.”

    I felt that way Monday morning when I finished my current blog post. It feels as though I am a conduit through which Divine speaks in the world and even though it’s uncomfortable for me during the writing process, I’m in awe of what comes through sometimes. And grateful to be a part of that creative process.
    Dangerous Linda recently posted….rethinking ‘it-could-be-worse-giving’My Profile

    • Linda- I know what you mean about a conduit.. for me it’s mostly the story and getting it all out, but that’s another story. Your comment, which I am horrible late in responding to (other writing) and poor planning on my part, inspired my most recent post. The Fire Within…

  3. k~

    Always a joy to find your words splashed and dashed across the page. Passion driven, any topic can find a way into the heart of your readers through the words you share with us.

    • Thanks K, I hope you are well. I am buried in writing and trying to finish editing a second novel. So hopelessly behind on everything else in my life.

  4. oh goodness this sounds like the recipe for a novel! A good one! An old creative writing instructor told me years ago that a story just has to be “a moment.” Maybe that’s why I could never publish my stories. I always had to have that plot. So I wound up writing novels instead:)
    sandra tyler recently posted….Tale Tues: I QuitMy Profile

    • Sandra, I can see what he meant, we are after all inside a moment of their life. I admire those who can craft a short piece. It’s a talent. I am with you when it comes to novels, so much fun to get in deep with the peeps.

  5. I’ve missed your writing! My life has been such a dervish of work that I’ve had no spare time to keep up with my favorite blogs. So glad I didn’t miss this one; you have a great voice.

    May I share my recipe? I made this up for my query letter for my novel “Amy’s Own.” No one responded, but to each her own, eh?

    Love Constitute
    1/4 pound Basic Lust
    1/3 cup Infatuation
    5-6 chunks of Total Joy
    Equal pinch of Want & Need
    6 heaping tablespoons of Unrealistic Expectations
    Essence of Blind Devotion
    Layers of Denial
    Sprinkling of Fairy Dust (optional)
    Add each ingredient sequentially. Mix thoroughly. Cover and let rise in a heated environment. Punch down and knead repeatedly. Roll out & twist into shape. Bake interminably. (Results may vary. Customer satisfaction not guaranteed.)
    Kat Ward recently posted….My Novel: Amy’s OwnMy Profile

    • Kat!!! I understand the dervish.. I’ve gone to posting once a week. It’s not because of the writing, it’s the reading of other blogs and reciprocating. I love the writing but I can’t keep up with reading twice as many blogs and commenting, and working on the novels. I sound like a wuss, but there you have it. I loved your adds to the recipe. As for query letters and agents, I’m sure there is much that can be said about both. I have learned that some respond – but most do not, even if the submission guidelines say they will. Sadly, or not, everyone is writing a book these days, thus the middlemen, the agents, are drowning in a pool of unread query letters. The beauty is we are not without recourse, self-publishing isn’t a four letter word anymore. If you go that route just make sure you novel is tight and edited (by someone other than yourself). It’s a pleasure seeing you again.

    • Annie – I’ve been thinking about you lately. I hope you are well. And thank you for you words. I have to write reminders to myself while I shop my novel and write the others.. It’s such a brutal process.

  6. Oh, Brenda, this brilliant, savvy, clever post could not have hit me at a better time! I am in the process of winnowing out the “thats” and chopping and cutting and correcting the second novel of The Glade Series. Yes! Hiding our work away in a dark closet then bringing it back to the light when we have decidedly distanced ourselves is key! Even when I wrote daily devotions, I would push to get ten (count ’em – 10!) days ahead so the final product could be properly edited and modified.
    You have given all writers a great perspective here with you wit and experience, wisdom and wine!
    Blessings to you and your recipe for writing!
    Martha Orlando recently posted….Are YOU in my PEW???My Profile

    • Martha – First, I am shocked you had ten post in the ready. I am so last minute with mine. I use a song title or a lyric to kick off a post. I can feel you anguish of editing. I am in the same place. I don’t think it gets easier over time, but at least we our more experienced and less emotional about our words (HAHA). I am every grateful that you take time to stop by. Looking forward to reading the series.

    • Adriana – from you lips to Tinker Bell’s ears. I’ve enjoyed the journey, well except the first three times I had to write the first novel, then the edits… :-)

    • Oh Monica, but is as easy as this…:-) If only we weren’t distracted by shinny bobbles and the glow of the internet. Thanks kindly, my sweet.

  7. that sounds like a perfect recipe for a bestseller.. i do plan to write a book sometime in my life.. i think i can take leaf or two out of your book to make my book as interesting as this article you have written..

    i loved it..

    • Deepak, thanks for stopping by. You are more than welcome to take a leaf or four from my book, and if you have anything to add on your own journey, please share.

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