Monday, December 2, 2013

Yeast Makes the Story Rise

Why do I keep posting about the similarities between fiction writing and cooking?  I really think there's alot to be said for the analogies.  The more I write, the more parallels I see.

My wife will tell you (she tells me, anyway) I'm a pretty good cook.  She's amazed that I can season without measuring, and can take 3 regular recipes and combine them into one allergy-free dish that tastes good.

She'll also tell you I'm very impatient in the kitchen.  Which makes breadmaking a chancy, frustrating process for me.  You just can't rush good bread!

I put the dough together - regular mixing stuff, done that - then add these little pellet-grains of activated yeast.

And then I wait...

For about 3 minutes.  Or maybe 5.  And then I start to get this yawning fear that something isn't right - that maybe I did something wrong.

Ten minutes in, I'm trying to figure out what I might do to correct my presumed mistake.  Soon, I might be acting on that presumption, and probably short-circuiting the whole rising process!

I'm lucky I don't act that way as a writer.  Maybe you've noticed? :)

Yes, it's true.  I've been telling people my first fantasy story - Uprooted - is "almost" done for about four months now.

In truth, the story has been "almost done" for four months.  It's just I was never satisfied with the result.  I kept thinking I'd be disappointed with myself if I published it in that shape.  I keep wanting it to be more compelling.  More interesting.  More tense.  I want the characters to be more meaningful to the reader.  I want the story to be more suggestive of a wider world and more stories ahead.

So I've been working on it.  Alot.

Gradually it's been taking shape.  It's been "rising."  It's been taking on a shape entirely unlike what I imagined I was writing, when I first set out.

Not long ago, I was planning to publish a story that was 17,000 words long.  Recently I sent out a story that's 33,000 words long to a set of trusted beta-readers.  And while they're working on reading and providing critiques, I'm changing it yet again (in relatively small, but meaningful, ways).  It's growing, and filling the "pan."

I've grown wary and tired of using the phrase, "It's almost ready to publish."  So I won't say it again.  I may never use that phrase in the future!

But the fact that the "rising" has slowed, and the fact that my beta-readers are reading and sending back final comments, should give you an idea that this first story set in the world of Orinthia will be ready relatively soon.

I keep comfort in the idea that alot of the depth and background I've developed for this introductory story will be very helpful for me as I expand the series and add more novels.  Hopefully, those will be easier and quicker to write! 

Or maybe I'll just realize that the story tastes better when it's allowed to take its own sweet


  1. Love this analogy! And it is so important to the final process of the project. Timely for me too, because I'm 1,000 words from "finishing" my story and I'm already having to put the brakes on myself and remember that there's going to be at least a few days of minor edits before it can be sent off to its intended market.

    1. Thanks, Alex/Tokyo! This is alot longer process than I realized. It didn't have to be, but I'd probably be kicking myself if I hadn't taken the time. Best wishes on your latest project!

  2. If I were a baker, I'd plan on giving my product plenty of time to rise. In so doing, whatever I'm baking will be the best it can be. Great blog Edwin, and I'm sure you'll publish a terrific book.

  3. Edwin, I can understand the frustration. I started with a short story with too many characters. That blossomed into a novelette that was a bit disjointed because I tried to tell too much story in too few pages. Then it became a novella sized piece. But then I wanted to turn it into a novel. I nearly finished the whole thing and decided to put out the first Act as a novella. That became A Song of Betrayal. Personally (not saying this is what you need to do), I just had to make a decision and live with it. I published the first Act as book one of The Adventures of Weylin Series. It's such a tough process trying to decide when something is publish ready. Seems like you are doing the right things though. Build a base and then release the novel. Wish you luck.

    1. Thanks, Jesse! That's an interesting story. I know you have a whole series planned, too, so you know what this is like. Best wishes with your sequel! I've got my sequel planned out, plus I have another 20 other story ideas within this universe, and have already started writing 5 or 6 of them. I feel like I "need" to be onto some of those other projects, but I'll be happy when this is out in good shape, and will look forward to the time when I can work on the others. Looking back, if I'd published earlier all the other stories would have suffered because of lack of background prep.