- Recipe like Voice- To make jelly you need a recipe and the first few times I’d recommend sticking to it. However, now that I’ve made several batches I find myself adding notes to the recipe and tweaking it to make it just right for me. Like writing it takes time to develop your style and voice. Keep going and practice writing till you find yourself in your words.
- Ingredients like Characters- Jam is only as good as the fruit you put into it. If your fruit isn’t clean, not ripe, or overripe the jam won’t taste right. Your story will only work if your characters are strong, and your plot is interesting. Each component matters so be selective with your ingredients.
- Thicken like Revision- Every good jelly needs time to thicken. whether you do this fast by adding pectin or let it sit overnight to release the natural pectin it has to happen. Revision whether you hire an editor to help fast or wait a few months and revise at your own speed you must revise to let your story mature. Don’t skip this part otherwise you run the risk of a watery mess that will leave you bummed out.
- Don’t Burn like Reducing Word Count- If you don’t let your jelly simmer and thicken you will have fruit soup and not jelly. Kids books in particular need to hit a certain word count (picture books between 400-1000 words). You have to thicken your story by making each word count so it packs the biggest punch with the limited space. If you try too hard though you run the risk of burning the jelly, your story could end up being revised to death. Burning your jam will destroy your ingredients, be sure you don’t sacrifice your characters or voice during revision.
- Preserve like Don’t Quit- You know when I make jelly I make a BIG batch and it fills nearly a dozen jars. I have to store them by sealing the jars for later. So don’t expect your first story to hit the best seller list or even get you an agent. It may take the till the third or eighth jar to hit those goals.
- Share it With Others- I like to give my jelly to friends and family who appreciate homemade treats. I also share my stories with critique partners and others who appreciate a good story, like my girls.
So whether you are making jelly or writing your next book keep going. Experiment, taste, and revise your craft. Never quit on your dreams. If you have to start a new batch.