Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why Writing A Novel Is Like Thanksgiving Dinner

Have you ever thought about the similarities between writing a novel and Thanksgiving dinner?  No? Well, stop and think for a moment. I think we can draw a lot of correlations between the two.

Let's start with our hero – the one who perfectly carves a turkey without tearing a single piece apart. Right. Who likes a perfect hero? Let's give him a few flaws. He can carve the turkey, but he routinely forgets to charge the electric knife. 

Our heroine can set a perfect table but she is usually too busy yelling at the game to remember to get everything out on time so you have to wait for halftime to eat.

Conflict is what happens when your hero's family and heroine's family meet for the first time. In your book, this is the reason they want to stay apart. The holiday is the reason they can't. Great conflict occurs when you put them into a pushmi/pullyu situation.

You can add external conflict as well. What family gathering is complete without at least one uninvited relative who is always cheering on the wrong team?

The whole family relates to your cast of secondary characters. Uncle Joe who eats the last piece of pie while his wife criticizes the use of new china instead of Great Aunt Nonnie's best. 

There’s the big black moment when you realize that nothing you do will ever be enough for some family members while others wouldn't have noticed if you'd bought a rotisserie chicken at the market. Your story comes crashing down around your hero and heroine at this point.
Then, just like at Thanksgiving, you realize that the whole reason for writing the book and making the dinner was to feed yourself. Your dreams of writing are what are important and not the criticisms of others. As with every good story, or meal, there’s triumph and tears and everything in-between.

Yep, writing a novel is a lot like Thanksgiving dinner. When it goes well, there’s a happy ending. Your team wins, your pie crust doesn’t burn and your turkey is a gorgeous golden brown. All of your side dishes are perfect, made from old family recipes. Everyone gets along for the duration of the meal and a little while afterwards. There’s a happy ending for dinner and for your novel.

So, at this time of year, let’s give thanks for novels and for our traditions. Even if your family isn’t perfect or your turkey gets burned or if you forget the cranberry sauce in the fridge. There’s always room for a happy ending.

From our families to yours, happy holidays! Cai and Arwen aka Marilu Mann.


Sheila Tenold said...

Your scenarios brought back memories of Thanksgiving Past!!

Now I'm in the mood to tackle another one this year, wacky relatives and all.

Co-incidently, my current WIP has a Thanksgiving gathering which doesn't go as planned. Do they ever?

Arwen said...

Sheila, it's half the fun of my family gatherings!

morgan said...

Hi Arwen,
Enjoyed your blog, especially the photos. This year I will be the new "family" member at the gathering. It is hard for me not to want to bring my family traditions. I keep saying, "Seriously, you go to the store and buy all the dishes you bring, you don't make them?"

This would bring on major shame in my culinary family where we try to outdo each other by overdosing on The Food Network recipes.

Ryan said...

Haha you're so right. Would you be interested in writing a guest post on my blog? You can let me know if you're interested.

Josie said...

Very clever blog and comparisons. You are so right.