Posts Tagged ‘remember’

Cooking is like writing. Just ask anyone who has watched me create bruschetta. It is long, repetitive work as I chop the basil, the garlic, and the tomatoes. Out of memory and with frequent tasting, I mix in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese as, nearby, the bread toasts in olive oil or butter. From all this we can gain several lessons applicable to writing…

Lesson #1: Don’t give up before the end!

It would be fairly easy in the midst of Michael Buble’s serenading of my tomato slicing to stop. About a half an hour in it seems the task will never be completed. Excuses like, “Company will be here soon,” slip to the tip of my tongue. Yet, if I surrender to the fatigue, it would all be for naught. Writing is much the same. Many would-be authors never finish. Their tales are consumed by the daunting work they fear they could not complete. Just remember: without an ending, your story is only a bunch of chopped tomatoes.

Lesson #2: Revise.

Mere chopped tomatoes no longer, the bruschetta now has all its ingredients. Yet it does not taste quite right. I recoil as I put it to my lips and add a bit more of an ingredient. This is the time for tweaks, fixes, and revisions. This phase takes a pile of bruschetta that could never be served to company and turns it into the masterpiece guests will be talking about for weeks. In writing, revisions are the necessary tweaks that fill the novel with aroma, spice, and color. It is a common mistake to think the first draft is publishable. Chances are, it isn’t.

Lesson #3: At some point, stop second-guessing.

All this revising is well and good. Until, that is, I begin to fix parts of the recipe that were never broken. A chef is his/her own greatest critic. Eventually, well-enough has to be just that. It is time to add the bruschetta topping to the French bread. This is a magical moment, when criticism fades and taste buds rule. When writing, it is perfectly just to spend a long time fixing, reshaping, and editing a story. Nevertheless, an end to the perpetual changes must come. Know when to be satisfied with your work. Consciously choose to experience the thrill of a finished story, instead of always second-guessing yourself.

Keep writing and dreaming, friends,

Jessie Mae



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So how do we really design epilogues? Here are some common questions and their answers:

How long should the epilogue be? In ‘The Art of the Epilogue’ I wrote that, “The epilogue is the graceful hint from the author that grants readers just a glimpse of what would have come. ” A hint. That means, in its best light, less than a page. No more than a page and half unless you have an exceptional reason to make it longer.

What is the point of the epilogue?  In ‘A Real Epilogue’ I asserted that the epilogue’s job is to leave an emotion in the minds of readers. Stay away from the trap of listing events. They may be interesting. They may exciting. But they defy the purpose of the epilogue. Have an appendix with future events, tell people to check out your website, write a short story, whatever; just don’t write what happened for ten years in bullet points as your epilogue.

Why are you so narrow-minded? The reason I say this is because epilogues are the last things people read, which means people remember them. Only, people tend to forget events. Ask yourself, “Do I want the last impression of my book to be forgettable? Or do I want to give readers some emotion to recall–a positive emotion–about my book?” I think you’ll lean towards the latter.

What comprises the epilogue? The epilogue portrays a scene in the lives of characters. The epilogue is not meant for information; its meant for emotion. Characters–not events and scenery–build emotion. Even if you are the type of writer who causes characters to fall into the backdrop throughout your novel, the epilogue is the moment for you to bring them out, polish them up, and help them shine.

When should I write my epilogue? I highly recommend you write your epilogue at the end of the book. Once you are finished with your body ask yourself, “What’s missing? Where will these characters go from here? What do I hope people will learn from my book?” Before you know it, you’ll be brain-tripping right towards the content of your epilogue.

What are some common types of epilogues?

Well, friends, that’s for another day.

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