I’m old enough to remember a Big Mac jingle which was nothing more than singing the ingredients. It was catchy. I recall my schoolmates in elementary school singing it often. Girls would chant it to skip rope.
There’s something to be said for selling something just by noting its ingredients. A well-written story, like a Big Mac, is something where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Creative Writers can use this jingle to remember the constituent elements of a good story.
The Meat in any story is the characters. Just like the meat needs to be seasoned and well prepared, the characters in any tale are the central element and are of the most vital importance. Characters that are not deeply individual end up being flat, whereas highly personalized characters are quite tasty. When your characters are prepared well, you’ve written a meaty story.
I know that Big Macs only use one kind of cheese, but today you can find any fermented curd on a burger. I’ve even seen macaroni & cheese and pimento cheese on a hamburger. Some serve burgers with the cheese inside the beef patty. Good dialogue that is suited to the individuality of the characters adds both mellowness and a bites to a good story with enough uniqueness just like there are great variance in burger cheeses today. Great dialogue flavors the characters just like a great cheese on a burger.
Lettuce, pickles, and onions are like the details, setting, and environment for any story. Some writers treat the details of a scene as the burger itself. Some overdo it and all you taste is veggies. You need these specifics, but not every single minutiae of a given setting. These details add their own subtle background flavor, but that is the limit. Only such details should be added in a story to the degree that they are necessary to the telling of the story.
The plot holds the story together like the bun holds the burger together. The Big Mac has that funny little middle bun. Believe it or not, it helps hold the sandwich together much like the middle bread in a club sandwich. Likewise, plot has a beginning, middle, and end. Make sure you do not make the bun central to your story, or you’ll have folks asking “Where’s the beef?” Forgive the mixing of my fast food metaphors.
We all know that Special Sauce is ThousandIsland salad dressing. That may not seem too special, but it is what makes the Big Mac unique. A few other fast food places have served a burger with ThousandIsland, and it seems like a poor imitation. The Special Sauce in your story is you, or more to the point, it is your voice as Creative Writer. Think of your favorite authors. They have a uniqueness to them. A few of my favorite are Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. They are quite different, but their voices are clearly their own. I believe that the most difficult aspect of Creative Writing is finding an author’s voice. Once you have it, you have the Special Sauce to make your story taste like you.
Any dish has its own recipe, but a good chef can still make it his own. Follow the recipe for good Creative Writing and you’ll have a great end product. Just like chefs like to share recipes, Creative Writers like to share good articles regarding composition. If you enjoyed this post, share it with other writers you know.