Plots should thicken like gravy.

26 Feb, there will be a gravy recipe for anyone, who again, stopped in expecting food. 😉  However, you’ll have to read further to get to the recipe.

As is the case with gravy, manuscripts/plots need time to thicken. Lets face it not too many people want gravy that shares the same consistency as water, but neither do they want a gravy that has coagulated into a gelatin state.

It’s easy when writing to have a sagging middle because the plot/characters/descriptions aren’t strong enough to carry the story through. From this, comes the water-like consistency no one wants to eat or read.  And it is equally as simple to over-plot and confuse the reader with the: plot and subplots/bigger than life characters/over-done descriptions. Creating a coagulating effect that most times has a reader discarding the book.

So how do you find a balance? I’m thinking it’s different for every person. Yet, something we’re all seeking.

That smooth perfection that when we read it aloud the words melt in our mouths, leaving us satisfied. Which reminds me, gravy recipe: (This is one my dad made when we were growing up)

Hamburg Gravy:

1lb hamburger (browned)

1tbsp basil

1tbsp parsley

1tbsp salt

1/2tbsp pepper

1/2tbsp celery salt

1/4cup cornstarch

2cups hot water

***Keep hamburg in the fry pan, drain grease. Add 1cup hot water and all seasonings to hamburg and bring to a boil. Put cornstarch in measuring cup and add the remaining cup hot water to it and stir. Once stirred to have a milky appearance, add slowly to the boiling hamburg and water. After a minute or so of boiling, turn the heat on the stove top down to a simmer. **If you prefer your gravy thicker, add 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch to 2 tbsp of water, stir together then add the mixture to your gravy pan until you have a desired consistency. Remember gravy will usually thicken given time.

As a reader, what author(s) do you believe have mastered the ‘thickening’ plot?

As a writer, how do manage your plotting? And do you think it’s working for you or are you still striving for the right recipe?


3 Responses to “Plots should thicken like gravy.”

  1. Debora February 26, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Thanks for the gravy recipe (I’m not the best when it comes to making gravy, I’ll give this one a try!)

    Plotting. Tough stuff. I like to have a small sub-plot running through to pick up some of that sagging middle, but I do use a plot board to make sure I’m keeping up the tension and the plot twists.

    Does it always work? No.
    That’s why I have you girls… to point that out to me and make me stretch! LOL

  2. Rebekah Purdy February 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    Great post! Is that mom’s recipe? LOL, just teasing. You are so right about the plots. And as a pansters I have to at some point put on my plotting hat. Notebooks help me keep track of where I’m going and possible outcomes.

  3. Cyn March 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    Awesome post, Rachel. 🙂 GREAT analogy and so true.

    The recipe sounds yummy, too.

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