Recipe for a Novel

My craft class this semester has been experimenting with form. We read “Recipe for a Self-Portrait” from Frida, then Carmen assigned us to write a recipe for our self-portrait as a novelist.

Like all things in writing, what you set out to do is never what you end up with in the end. Instead of a self-portrait of me as a novelist, I ended up with a recipe for a novel:


1 pound creative ideas

1 pound of determination

2 cups disappointments

3 cups stolen moments

1 T self-doubt

1 cup inspiration

1 teaspoon sheer will

 Soak stolen moments in determination. Combine with creative ideas. Cut in disappointments to form crumbs. Pour inspiration over the crumbs and knead into a smooth dough. Set aside.

Take a walk. Clear the mind.

Form dough into a ball. Squeeze out self-doubt. Pray for more inspiration. Add a teaspoon of sheer will and another tablespoon determination. Roll into 75,00 words. Sprinkle with wit and vivid images. Bake until it smells delicious, but let someone else taste before serving.

Everyone’s recipe is different. What’s in your recipe? Do you have a secret ingredient? I would love to hear what goes into your novels.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. When I was little and asked my mom what was in our food, she would smile and say ‘Secret Special Poison Surprise!’ That kept me on my toes. I’d add a few drops of surprise to that recipe, and a couple pounds of love. It’s impossible to write without passion for the story or the characters.

  2. Sounds good. I agree that surprise is a key ingredient, and don’t forget the blood, sweat and tears.

  3. All great suggestion. Passion, love, surprise, blood, sweat and tears. I think we all use all of that!

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