Monday, July 23, 2018


Recipe for a Novel l Cindy Vine @cindyvine

A Recipe for a Novel

This recipe is for the most delicious, tastiest novel this decade.  You will certainly have all your dinner guests licking their lips, salivating and begging for more.  Of course, you do need to know who you are cooking up this delightful concoction for.  If it’s only for friends and family then you can play around with the ingredients to your heart’s content, experiment a little, go into the dark side and wallow in there for a while.  But if it is for many guests you haven’t met yet, then you probably need to stick to the recipe a little more.  Don’t deviate too much, otherwise the flavor might change and the aroma might be too pungent which might make your guests make a dash for the door.  The tastiest novel is not so much about the style or the perfect use of metaphor or beautiful descriptions of the way the clock ticks slowly, but about the story.  And what makes a good story?  Why, the plot and the characters of course.

 Ingredients (This is what you need to shove into that chipped glass mixing bowl of yours!)

A huge dilemma/crisis/problem/conflict, the bigger the better.  Not too convoluted, or the dinner guest might lose interest if the twists and turns require too much concentration and your guest gets bored and leaves before the main course is served.  The dilemma has to be real enough to grab the guest so that they can connect with it, and not too far-out there that they can’t identify with it at all so that they lose interest.  You’ll have to taste little bits every now and then to ensure you have just the right amount.  This is the tricky bit.  The plot has to unravel sequentially.  Remember, your dinner guest is there to eat up your novel, not develop a stress migraine.  You should stick to the basic format of a beginning, a middle and an end.

A good setting.  If you think of anyone from a book or your life, they’re always in a context.  They always come with a setting, a certain place and time, plus a whole lot of baggage clustered around them.  Any character in your novel must have some sort of a backdrop.  This makes them more believable.  Rather than relying on interior monologues and streams of consciousness which could alter the flavor of your dish considerably, and slow it down somewhat, it’s often more effective simply to subtly slip in a telling detail about a the place where the character’s hanging around, and show how they interact with their environment.

A few sub-plots is a tasty way to spice up the novel,  build up intrigue and make your dinner guest cry out in ecstasy or horror.  Either way, you want to get a reaction from them.  You want them to feel it, that cornucopia of taste sensations.  Like little interactions and conflicts between some of your other characters, their interactions with the protagonist.  This helps make it all the more real.  Nobody has a week without any kind of conflict at all, however minor.  Life is all about solving conflicts.

Next you need to add a point of view to maneuver your guest into the world you have created.  Your guests are handing over all their sensory faculties to you.  You have absolute control of them, and everything they experience is governed by what you choose to show or tell them.  And to do this well, you have to decide whether you are going to use a first person, second person, third person, or multiple persons.   Whichever point of view you decide with, you need to stick with.  Swapping viewpoints is like hopping from red, to white,  to sweet wine, to dry, in one meal.  You risk losing your guest, making them so inebriated that they no longer know if they are Arthur or Martha.

A few great characters and a mouth-watering protagonist.  Without characters, there can be no novel, no matter how great the plot.  The best protagonist is someone we can identify with for the duration of the meal.  What makes a character interesting is not how the world impacts on them, but how they impact on the world.  This is how the character develops.  Only describing things that happen to your characters make them one-dimensional.    Making your characters do and say things in an engaging way, giving them reasons, motivations and conflicts is what makes them three-dimensional and more believable.  You want your dinner guests to talk about your characters at other dinner parties, and for this to happen they need to connect to them.

 Seasonings, add at your discretion, but do add some otherwise your recipe might turn out bland and leave your guests with no taste in their mouths.  Some spice is always good, a little bit of sex to get the guests’ hormones going, action to give them a bit of an adrenalin rush; it tends to make the meat more tender and easier to chew on.  Salt and pepper are always essential, as is good realistic dialogue and descriptions.  A dash of herbs will add some color, maybe even add a slightly eccentric character with strange foibles.  A bit of chili which could be suspense, humor or both, will give the wow factor.
Method of preparation (Knowing the order in which you mix the ingredients)
Prepare your work space where you’ll mix your ingredients.  First come up with the problem, the dilemma.  Then add in the setting.  Come up with some interesting characters.  Write some character sketches first. It’s important to know how they will think and act in different situations.  It is only when you know how your character is expected to act, that you can introduce the element of surprise which definitely adds to the flavor of this recipe.  Once you have your characters, add in the sub-plots and mix.  Introduce the point of view and leave your concoction to stand for a while.

Transfer your concoction to a big black cauldron, and put it onto a slow heat.  Stir carefully while cooking the ingredients, and slowly add in the seasoning, stirring after each type of seasoning is added.  Stay vigilant and engaged, watching carefully that the liquid doesn’t evaporate so that your concoction is dried out and gets caught and burned out on the bottom.  Do not let yourself get distracted from the novel you are cooking up. Stay away from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram when in the kitchen.

Garnish and serve creatively on your best plates.  The presentation is important, so check the spellings, grammar and punctuation, Edit, revise and edit again.  Your dinner guests will be back for more if you have taken care of their needs, which is flavor and presentation.  You want them to leave satisfied, so that they tell other potential guests about the wonderful meal they had with you.

About the Author

Cindy Vine was born in South Africa and has lived and worked in many different countries as a teacher.  Cindy is currently living and working in Norway. She has three adult children who have all inherited her love of traveling and who all live in different countries.  Cindy likes to write about the difficult subjects that make you think.  Besides writing and traveling, Cindy loves cooking and fixing up houses.
Her latest book is the YA, The Freedom Club.



About the Book:

Author: Cindy Vine
Publisher: Createspace
Pages: 184
Genre: YA

“We could be anybody and everybody. A group of high school stereotypes with one thing in common.  Every one of us has a story.”
Every high school has the bullies, the freaks, and the weird kids that make you feel uneasy.  Rourke High has more than their fair share.  A few months before the end of their senior year, a group of seemingly mismatched kids get together to form The Freedom Club, hoping that they can support the victims of bullying, before they graduate.  As they uncover secrets and lies they plot revenge - and discover love, friendship and truths about themselves, building up to a shocking climax that will leave you reeling.
Do you ever really know the person next to you?



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