Guest Post by Krista Phillips
I love it when people come to me and say, “WOW! You wrote a book? How do you do that??”
For that matter, i was the same way when I started out. The thought of filling all those pages with words that were coherent and that people actually wanted to read was daunting.
I thought I’d break it down for you today, real simple like! And in a nod to my own debut novel, Sandwich, with a Side of Romance, I thought I’d do it sandwich-style!
First, you start off with the bread. In book-land, that’s called the basic idea or principle. What is your book about? What big thing do you want to build this awesome novel around?
For my Sandwich book, the bread was basically the first chapter. A hairstylist who’s down on her luck is cutting a guys hair, messes up, and gets fired. He’s mad, but she’s madder for him being such a jerk, but the twist comes in because this jerk eventually becomes the guy she falls in love with.
Then, you layer on the meat. Bread is great and all, but if there isn’t any meat to your story, it’s pretty bland. So you add some meaty layers that will be the substance of your sandwich. If you have only bread and meat, you’d still could have a sandwich. Might not be a “good” sandwich, but you’d have one. Without meat… you just have uncooked toast. And that’s no fun…
Meat usually comes in developing your characters. What are their problems? What are they trying to overcome? And why is it so stinkin’ hard for them to get there?
In Sandwich, Maddie has a really hard past she has to overcome, and as a newbie Christian, it just doesn’t seem that God is giving her a break. She also hates men because of her past, but she’s forced into working in close quarters with her annoying but hot boss. She really wants to get her brother out of foster care, but circumstances keep stacking against her.
And Reuben… he’s all-but-engaged to his high school sweetheart, but she’s a little… interesting. Not to mention that his dad died a few years ago, his mom married the guy who killed him, and his restaurant expansion is going down the tube fast because finance numbers just aren’t adding up. Oh, and he has this quirky new assistant that hates him. Did I mention that said assistant is highly kissable? Oye. He’s in trouble.
For a CBA novel, your “spiritual theme” or takeaway is also a meat! For sandwich, there were a few takeways, including being Jesus to those around you and offering help even when it isn’t requested, and accepting that life doesn’t always turn out like we plan, but God is still in control!
So yes. You need some meat!
And then you lather it on with fun good stuff that just makes it look and taste that much better. This is your lettuce and tomato and mayo and onions and ketchup and mustard. Your sandwich probably won’t have ALL of this (unless you are my husband at Subway who asks for a little of EVERYTHING) but it should have just the right mixture to make your book delectable.
The fun stuff in a book will be your subplots, your minor characters, your settings. It is even your genre, like adding humor or romance or suspense. What flavor do you want your sandwich to take? A little spicy, a little sweet, or a little of both?
Sandwich had a dash of humor and romance, with just this itty bitty sprinkle of suspense, but not too much as to overwhelm.
Not everyone will like your sandwich. I know… I know… it’s an AWESOME sandwich. How could everyone not like it? But let’s face it. Not everyone will think Roast Beef with canned tuna and anchovies will be a good combination.
And really? I love roast beef, like ham, but am not a big fan of deli chicken on a sandwich. And I really don’t like all those condiments added to my sandwich although I LOVE a good slice of provolone cheese.
The point is, make your sandwich taste as good as you can get it, get feedback but realize sometimes that feedback is a matter of taste (i.e. has nothing to do with you having a bad sandwich) but also listen when people question your use of two cups of mayo.
Krista Phillips writes inspirational romantic comedy. She believes a sprinkle of laughter (and a wee bit of chocolate) makes everything a little better! She blogs regularly about life as a wife, mother, follower of Jesus, and mother of a child with a rare congenital heart defect. Sandwich, With a Side of Romance is her debut novel.