Thursday, March 01, 2007

Letting the Manuscript Simmer

Writing, like cooking, depends on patience. Let's say you're making a stew or a pot of Bolognese. To get the flavors right, you have to cook everything the right way: Low heat for a long time, so you blend the flavors without cooking anything too quickly, or burning everything.

You don't want anything to taste like you just threw it in at the last second, or worse, that you threw it in at the last second to cover something that didn't work very well. Everything needs to be part of the whole, but it needs its own place. Everything in the sauce should be something a gourmand can identify with a taste, yet it should also be necessary.

So in addition to patience, you need faith in your ingredients.

Conceptually, a manuscript is the same as a good pasta sauce. (Yeah, I know. In my Dad's family, and in M.G. Tarquini's, they call it gravy. I still call it sauce. Good sauce is a work of art. Good gravy is what Yankees throw on their meat and potatoes to disguise the taste.)

I've had one last major plot dilemma kicking around in my head since... well, since before I even started writing the book. Tonight, becaue I waited for things to sort themselves out in my head, because I put them on the back burner and let them simmer, because I believed in my characters and the paths they've taken: I have it. That one last element I need to be airtight, so no reader will scream, "Yeah, right!" and never read another word of mine.

Tonight, I vacuum sealed that last sticking point. It's a small victory, such as whether to use cognac or red wine (answer: cognac, always, because it makes a richer and earthier sauce) but crucial to the plot.

I think I'll celebrate by making a huge pot of Bolognese this weekend.


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Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

We also call it macaronis.

I don't know from sauce. Isn't that what landed Uncle Nic at AA?

The manuscript is done? Is that what you're saying?

*sets off fireworks*

1:44 PM, March 02, 2007  
Blogger Adam Hurtubise said...

Close, Mindy. But not done yet.

2:53 PM, March 02, 2007  

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