Most people are familiar with a layer cake. You start by baking two or three thin plate sized sections of cake, stack them with some type of adhesive filling such as jam or pudding, and then frost the outside of the entire package. My book writing follows a similar path.
I start with the very basic story – characters meet, speak, move from place to place and interact. For the first draft I just want to get the basic story on paper. This is the cake part of my book, the main structure that supports and holds the project together.
After the first draft is done, I go back and add the filling – the things that hold the story together. These are the background information on the characters. This is where the supporting characters like Cliff’s wife and daughters or Mike’s mother step on stage. These supporting characters give the main characters a chance to reveal more about themselves and their motivations for the choices they make.
Then I add what I consider to be the icing – the descriptions of the incredible scenery in northern New Hampshire that ties the stories together. The scenery, terrain and weather form a constant presence in my books and exert an enormous influence on how the characters react and the choices they make. And it’s beauty truly is the “icing on the cake”!