Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cooks and Books

Right before I had to take my hiatus, I began reviewing a book.  I was so enthralled with it!  The first sentence pulled me in.  The main character was so bright and charismatic that I was instantly a fan of this book, regardless of where it went from the first sentence.  I read probably the first half of the book, and that same bright, charismatic voice was there.  I loved this book!

Fast-forward to last month.  I picked the book back up, and it's not the same.  Where was the main character I so admired?  What happened to the brightness?  The charisma?  It was edited.  Now!  I'm a huge advocate for editors!  If you don't have one, you need one!  It's that simple.  Even if you're an editor, get someone else to edit your work!  Now, the editor that worked on this book did exactly what he was 'supposed' to do.  He took the work that I had admired and factored in all of the English and grammar rules.  Then he moved everything around so that it meshed well.  He made it 'correct.'  The problem?  By making it the way it's supposed to be, the editor had chopped out so much of the character that I had loved about the book.

I started thinking about how the rules of editing are similar to a cook book.  I think I've hit upon something here.

When you pull out your cookbook, you're using a tried and true recipe.  Someone has spent hours in their kitchen making this recipe work just right.  You know that if you follow the recipe, you'll wind up with something good.  Measure correctly.  Stir the correct amount of time.  Bake at the correct oven setting for the alotted amount of time.  Ta da!  You've baked the same darn cookie that everyone who owns this cookie has made!  It's good!

BUT IT ISN'T GREAT!

Sometimes you just need that extra dash of cinnamon or salt to spice things up a bit.  Sometimes, you need allspice instead of cinnamon.  Sometimes, sometimes you freeze the darn cookie dough instead of baking it.  This is what leads to great.  It's alright to change up the recipe a little.  Different is great!

So, when you're writing, dare to add a little extra dash.  Bake it a few seconds less.  Throw caution to the wind and add some pecans!  Either it will be a great success, or less than good.  It's that simple.  If it's great, you know you're on to something!  If it's kinda gross and nobody wants to eat it, you know it's time to try another recipe.  Either way, you're not being a coward and making the same cookie everyone else is!  That's the cookie I want...the great one!

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