A Finely Written Book is Like a Finely Constructed…Meatloaf?

Egads! Two posts in two days?

October, it’s fall, harvest-time, when the temperatures struggle to reach a respectable 70 degrees, and what do I think of? FOOD. Comfort food.

(No, I’m not blog hopping from here to here. Although I’ve been amazingly busy outside as well as in.)

After I think of fall comfort food, like Yankee pot roast, four-alarm chili, and chicken noodle soup, my mind naturally drifts off to thoughts of NaNoWriMo and how I must get off my lazy behind and plot out VY2. November 1 is not that far away; in fact, it’s closer than you think.

With all of the bounty of my back yard begging to be dug up, picked, and/or cleared away, today I woke up with a wildly urgent craving for meatloaf. It could be the result of having put the last of my tomatoes into the crock pot last night for a slow stewing. I awoke this morning to a house reeking of tomatoes and garlic. And thus the longing for meatloaf at 7 a.m.

Meatloaf, you say?

Contrary to popular belief, meatloaf is not a peasant food. A good meatloaf has texture, from the blend of roughly chopped carrots, bell peppers, and onions (all of which come from my backyard), and flavor, from the careful melding of delicate herbs and spices. The optimum meat mixture should be coarsely ground and gingerly mixed, not smashed into the consistency of gruel. It doesn’t have to be ground beef, but can be ground veal, pork, turkey, buffalo, or a combination of any of the above.

My culinary meanderings got me to thinking: a finely written book is much like a finely constructed meatloaf. I could serve myself well to think of writing in the same terms.

When writing, I tend to take my main characters and pummel them into literary glop, turn them inside out and upside down in an effort to have the reader see what I see.  This is unnecessary. As I have said elsewhere, I am the Queen of the Back Story. I really shouldn’t smash down my meat, but instead lightly interweave it with the other ingredients. After all, a good story leaves out a little, a certain je ne sais quois that keeps the reader hooked and compels them to keep reading until the big reveal.

Likewise, meatloaf isn’t just meat. A phenomenal, gourmet meatloaf tastes good because of the other ingredients. Are they fresh and crisp? Are they unusual or the same-old same-old? Something as minor as the choice of breadcrumbs, for example, can alter the flavor. Italian, croutons, sourdough – all of it can change the basic recipe.

I’ve gone from a one-person story and a single timeline to the realization that it takes all of the elements with their own story to make the larger vision work. Each element has to be unsurpassed, perfect.

Mmm…I’m hungry.

After my quick trip to the market, I’ll attempt to put my meatloaf making skills to work in my writing.

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One Response

  1. Gives a whole new understanding to “re-veal.”

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