Tuesday, January 17

Mmmmmm... lasagna!

A friend just starting on the writer's journey asked me how I deal with character descriptions, and sheesh, that is so not an easy topic to answer in a sentence or two. As I wrote her a mile-long email complete with helpful attachments, I realized I was describing lasagna to her. Yep, I write my own special recipe of literary lasagna, layering backstory with setting with character description with dialogue with conflict with ricotta.

Several times, I've heard writing a book compared to childbirth. I thought, "Wow, it must be so much more painful for men to write a book." I've heard it compared to learning to drive. Eventually it becomes second nature, but maybe after you've totaled an MS or two. How about dentist visits, anyone???

How best describes your writing process? Heard of other analogies I missed? Do you do small layers or do you work in chunks? Personally, I don't start with layers, but it's what I end up with after edits. Now the real reason behind this post: I'm starving!!!

A quick note to Roland Yeomans: If you happen to see this, I tell you I don't read such young protags normally, but now I eagerly (impatiently) await your next installment of The Legend of Victor Standish. Your writing is like a painting to me. I think it's amazing you're donating proceeds this month to Salvation Army, but I still kinda wanna smack you in the cliffhanger. Please take that as a compliment. You have me happily hanging here :)


  1. I like the analogy of lasagna, although I am starving right now. Layers and layers. That's how I think most of us write a story.

  2. My writing process is more like making sugar cookies. Mix a bunch of ingredients together, split the resulting mass up into manageable portions and shape them in my own unique way, dress things up a bit once everything's done, and then leave it on the shelf for a year and a half without touching it so it becomes stale.

    I wish my process was more like lasagna. No, actually, I wish today's lunch was more like lasagna.

  3. Oh, my! The food references. Why am I always hungry when I get on the computer? At least I'm not the only one craving lasagna now.

    Hey, Nate, so distance makes the heart grow... staler? Heck with it. I'd eat that cookie!

  4. Okay the lasagne pic is making me hungry!!! LOL

    My writing process is more like a movie... I just type out what's going on in the movie in my head. I learn more about the characters as they find themselves in new situations...

    I'm trying to think of a cooking reference, but nope! LOL Maybe like stew? It gets more flavorful as I go? LOL

    Great blog!

    Lisa :)

  5. Ooooh, those are good ones! And the stew--you know how it's so much better the next day. Chili's like that, too. I like the movie idea a lot. In fact, that's how I read. It plays in my head. Plus I read in whole sentences, thus why I read so quickly.

  6. If writing is like lasagne, then half the time mine is inedible!

  7. LOL, you're a Cordon Bleu in my book, Alex! Really, though, I think everyone's first draft ends up more like a soupy mess. By the time you get your draft into nice, yummy layers, you're so sick of lasagna, you want to swear off it a few years ;D

  8. ...I much prefer the analogy of writing to lasagna, as opposed to childbirth. I've watched all three of my children's births, and openly admit to anyone who asks, that I'd never go through with it ;)

    As for Roland, I agree, he's one of the best.

    Great post,


  9. Lasagna is a great way to think about it. All those layers and different flavors make for a great character. :-)

  10. I hadn't heard any of these analogies. Dentist? Too funny. :) A rollercoaster is the one I hear most often.

  11. Hi, El! I have five kids and I STILL agree with you, lol. Your book sounds good. I'm gonna have to come by your site and check it out ;)

    Misha, tastes great, less filling, huh? My problem is that bigger isn't always better. I have to learn to strip out what isn't 100% necessary.

    Haha, Janet, I love the rollercoaster one. And it's so appropriate, isn't it? That's how I feel when I get the nibbles from agents, but they don't pan out. Guess I'll have to just get better!


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