How do you cook the books?

February 1, 2013

Today’s post idea is courtesy of Strands of Pattern. I’m pretty sure Jeff won’t mind me taking his idea and running with it.

I loved Jeff’s metaphor of cooking for the writing process, and some of the analogies that friends and followers came up with in the comments to his post. Thinking about it, I’ve decided that my writing process has a lot in common with the way I make one of my favorite meals – spaghetti and meat sauce.

First, I take a big lump of slightly slimy hamburger out of the fridge, slap it in a pan, turn up the heat, and start stirring like crazy as the meat browns and gets crispy. This is the heedless first draft composition stage – often set to Nanowrimo or some other crazy deadline event.

Once the meat is browned, I add some other ingredients – tomatoes, vegetables, herbs and spices, and let it simmer for a long time, stirring occasionally, tasting now and then. This would be the no-pressure editing, letting the story sit on the back burner of my brain while I’m doing other things, occasionally sitting down to try rewriting a scene or polish some of the prose.

And finally, there’s the slightly less frantic activity as I boil a pot of water and toss in the dry spaghetti – or set myself a deadline for finishing revisions and get myself into hot water. 🙂

Is it a perfect analogy? No, probably not. But I had fun with that notion. There are probably ways that my creative process is like whipping up crepes, or roasting a turkey, or microwaving some soup, but I’m not gonna think about them just now.

What culinary process is your writing style like?

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A wizard of Mars, the last chapter. (16)

June 5, 2011

A Wizard of Mars chapter index.

The final chapter of ‘A wizard of Mars’, to me, reads mostly like an epilog. The body of the story is already told, the climax has come and gone, and the main characters are talking through the post-mortem at a barbecue, working out things like the interpretation of the Red Rede prophecy, and how they managed to set up a temporal causality loop that influenced key events, by sending the Martian cities back into the past.

Mamvish is as funny a character as ever, especially when Nita’s father gives her some more tomatoes, and there’s an interesting little philosophical discussion with Tom, inspired by the fact that this is the first Young Wizard book that didn’t directly feature a manifestation of the Lone Power, the oldest source of evil, although Nita says that she definitely felt his influence, trying to bring about war on Mars, and between Mars and Earth.

Tom’s point of view, (and yes, he does sound a little like a proxy for a lecture from Diane, but I’ll let that slide this time,) is that it’s a sign that Nita and Kit are growing up. When they were younger, between raw power and viewing the world in simple terms, they were able to force the Lone One to become physical to take them on. Now, their practice of the art is going to be getting more complicated because of these changes in their lives.

After the post-mortem barbecue is done, Nita has a dream of Mars, with Kit, and Khretef, and Aurirelde in it, which is mostly more wrap-up, but at the very end, Kit brings up something that’s been left unresolved:

“Meanwhile,” Kit said, “something I forgot to ask you.”

“What?”

“Just what was it you called me back there?”

She shook her head. “Back there where?”

“You remember. Back at Argyre Planitia, when you were telling Aurirelde you didn’t have to keep yours in a cage.”

Nita stared at him, bewildered – then realized what he was talking about, and took a very deep breath.

“My boyfriend?” she said. And then Nita felt like cursing at herself for the way her voice squeaked with stress on the second word, turning it into a question.

Kit just looked at her. “Took you long enough,” he said. He grinned at her and vanished.

Nita’s eyes went wide, then narrowed with annoyance – and relieved delight.

“I’m gonna get you for that!” she said, and went after him.

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