Writing a romance novel and baking a dessert have many similarities by Annette Bower Guest Post and Giveaway ($25 International Gift Card-Comment for a chance to win!)
Posted by Krystal Larson at 4:00 AM Wednesday, May 2, 2012
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There are many books that detail how to blend together the main ingredients of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, lemon juice and vanilla extract to produce a lemon flavored dessert. There are also many books which offer advice and the perfect formula to create a story by blending together the main ingredients of theme, setting, character, plot, change, dialogue, action, and resolution to produce a romance novel.
However, there are many factors that cause the ingredients in a recipe to work together creating the finished. When I look at a picture I imagine the taste and the experience I will have after I measure, mix, spread and bake the necessary ingredients. A book cover can confirm readers’ expectations of the contents in a romance story.
Just as food nourishes the body, a book needs to meet the preferences of the mind and soul of a reader. A category romance novel will be expected to be romantic, with an empowering theme, and a happy ending. However, a single-title romance will require the reader to look at the cover, the blurb on the back, and the opening sentence in order to determine the ingredients in the story.
The first ingredient in my dessert recipe is all purpose flour. Flour contributes body and structure, texture and flavor to the baking and binds the ingredients together.
In a romance novel, the theme of love contributes the body, structure, texture and flavor to the story. It determines that the heroine will overcome her challenges through true love with a lifetime partner and conclude happy. Or a particular blend will ensure the heroine and hero are changed by their love without staying together at the end.
When sugar is used in baking it adds volume, tenderness, texture, and color, and acts as a preservative.
A sympathetic heroine is the sugar in a romance novel. When a reader identifies, cares about and believes in her, this relationship between the heroine and reader adds color, volume, a shared tenderness, and a reliable texture to the pages the reader eagerly turns. The consistency in the form is the preservative for the romance genre.
My recipe uses butter as the fat for flavor and texture and maintains freshness in the dessert.
In a romance novel the butter is a hero the heroine can love. The hero’s strengths, weaknesses, goals and dreams add flavor and texture in the story. The growing love keeps the romance fresh.
When the butter and sugar are creamed together, the sugar granules rub against the fat and produce air bubbles in the batter.
In a romance novel the sugar granules rubbing against the butter are the heroine and hero at a change or crisis point in their lives. The initial conflict brings them together and encourages the reader to continue turning the pages until the core conflict develops.
Eggs in a recipe provide leavening, color, texture, flavor and richness to the batter. They bind all the other ingredients together.
The emotional core conflict between the hero and heroine is the egg in the romance novel. It binds the heroine and hero together as they resolve the conflict as they move toward a successful relationship.
My specific recipe needs fresh lemon juice. The Romans believed that eating lemon was the antidote for all poisons. And after the 16th century when it was known that vitamin C cured scurvy, the Portuguese sailors planted their lemon and orange seeds on distant shores during their voyages.
The plot in a romance novel is like the lemon juice in my recipe. The plot must be interesting, similar to the story about a criminal who ate lemons before being thrown into a snake pit and survived the poison bites. And the plot must develop logically and naturally from character and conflict, similar to the story about Portuguese sailors who knew they had suffered from scurvy in the past and learned to save the seeds from the lemons and oranges during their voyage and planted trees to produce a continual supply of Vitamin C for their return voyage.
The vanilla extract in the lemon dessert recipe is used because of its aromatic quality and rich flavor. The sensuality in a romance novel must be appropriate to the characters and the story. Just as vanilla extract is produced by steeping the vanilla beans in an alcohol and water solution for several months, the love scene should reveal the hero and heroine’s feelings and excitement of their growing intimacy. When sugar is added to the fermentation of a vanilla bean it produces a clear dark liquid. A story in which the emotions of the characters are the focus rather than the clinical details of lovemaking will produce a powerful, clear love scene.
In many stories there are the archetypical characters, just like many recipes call for the same ingredients, but it is up to the author to create a strong story idea and theme so that a story can be created in the author’s unique voice.
The photograph of the recipe is like the cover of a book, it can confirm and entice the reader, baker, cook to enter the world among the ingredients for an emotionally satisfying ending as it crosses your palette or enters your heart.
My Lemon dessert and my story will be different from your dessert or story but it will be presented and enjoyed by the people for whom we prepared it.
Grant, Vanessa. (1999). Writing Romance. Bellingham, WA: Self-Counsel Press.
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