Recipe for a perfect book – Ingredient #1

I was fixing lunch for the kid, following – well, more or less – a recipe, and all that mixing/stirring/baking routine got me thinking.

If a dish needs a bunch of this and a pinch of that to turn out delicious (or, like, edible; cooking is not my strong suit), what would a book need? What are the staples, the foundation of The Perfect Book According to Tissie?

I’m glad nobody you asked! Let’s see:

T h i s, oh my God. The plot is, like, the main pillar? The keystone? The alpha and the omega of a book? Sad part is, I’m not even kidding. I mean it. In the plot-driven vs. character-driven debate I’m the flag-bearer of the Plot Superiority Team.

To me, a story needs a plot to work, else it becomes a tale of a bunch of characters with nothing to do; if you’ve got interesting characters at hand, then it’s a waste of potential and it makes me cry inside. With less interesting characters, it’s snoozefest time in Snoozeville.

Give me drama! Give me fake planets, space pirates, monster hunters, and CEOs in love! Give me ridiculous characters and serious ones, give me the creeps and make me laugh, but please, do it within a plot. A plot that makes sense and has some purpose.

This part right here is something I’m really struggling with LGBT books as of late. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong nooks and crannies – if that’s so, please drop me a line – but a big chunk of them is only based on the romance between the MCs. Where are my stories that revolve around [Issue#1], [Issue#2], and [Issue#3], and the love story is a subplot rather than the main focus? Say, the aforementioned CEOs may as well be in love with each other – they’re married! Exes and pining! – but the book is about corporate espionage, one of them is involved and the other is not. The candidate shall now explain how they’d get out of it (in one piece, wedding band included).

Or, space pirates? Well, Captain Pirate can crash into a Weird Alien World and has to find a way back to his crew; Liutenant Not-really-a-pirate-but-smuggles-Alien-Alcohol-on-the-side may or may not be willing to strike a deal that doesn’t involve sex. Or slaves. Or a combination of the two: I’m blaming Stargate Atlantis here, too many ff with Major Sheppard getting sold–

…Digressing here. Anyway!

My point is, story and structure go hand in hand. A book with good characters and no purpose is a hard pass for me – like, back to the recipe analogy up above, a chocolate cake with no chocolate. Is it still a cake? Technically, sure*. Is it as tasty as it was meant to be? No. All sad and bare and plotless. Aw.

*Disclaimer: I think? Still a bad cook/baker. Er.

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