Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Favorite Cake

Writing a novel is like baking a cake. Only, it won't be done in 25-30 minutes. I don't claim superior baking skills, but I can watch Cake Boss like... well... like a boss. If you've ever watched the show where they create masterpieces out of flour and sugar, you know the process is long. And the steps have to be done in a specific order.

To start off, your outline is like your recipe. The guide you follow to ensure all the necessary ingredients are there. If there are problems here, your cake will fall flat.

When you pull your cake out of the oven, that's your first draft. It's beautiful, and it smells divine, but it is nowhere close to done.
Thus begins the revision process. Trim a bit here, add a bit there. Make sure the structure of your cake is just right.

Once the basic design is there, you revise more. You add a base layer of frosting. This is the blank canvas upon which to build your true masterpiece. 

Then comes the most important part. Also, in my opinion, the fun part: Embellishments.

Flowers, piping, sprinkles, and, if you're really good, fondant creations. Here's where you add the elements that will make your cake really shine. This is the part in your story when you add emotional cues, sensory details and shades of color in your voicing. Stuff that will put your reader in the scene and make your story come alive.

Obviously, you can't add decorations to your cake when it first comes out of the oven or while you're still crafting the recipe.

Yet this is often what I find myself trying to do.

It's easy to get hung up on making everything perfect during a first draft, but that's not the time to do it. You add this stuff in the end. They are your finishing touches. And it's impossible to add them, in the right amount and to the precise degree, right after your cake comes out of the oven.

I like to think my writing skills are slightly better than my cake-making skills. I LOVE the process of baking my literary cakes. From creating an outline and writing the first draft, to revising and embellishing, writing a novel is a thrilling process. Sure, it's a bit more time consuming than "Mix together and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes," but the time I put into creating something amazing makes the finished product that much better.