The Iron Chef Gauntlet is currently running on Food Network. If in your part of the world the season finale has already aired, do NOT reveal the ending. No spoilers in the comment section, please. The series started with seven experienced, and extremely hopeful, chefs who set their sights on eliminating their fellow kitchen connoisseurs in order to face the toughest competition of all: three reigning Iron Chefs.
For most that would be enough to curdle blood, weaken knees, and reduce steel spines to a puddle of ooze. But each of the seven signed on for the heat in the kitchen and wielded their knives with enthusiasm.
This week’s episode featured a Chairman’s Challenge between three final fierce competitors. Their task: to build the perfect simple dish, with the entire pantry at their disposal, using . . . wait for it . . . only five (5) ingredients. (They were granted the concession of salt/pepper/olive oil, but those were the only staples provided.) Two of The Iron Chef contenders chose to build one simple, but complex item, while the third went a bit different route to put an entrée on the plate. In this case, SIMPLE and COMPLEX won. The full entrée with protein and sides could not contend against the perfect single dish. Simple and complex is anything but . . . well, simple.
As writers, one of our most difficult journeys is to KISS, an old sales acronym for Keep It Simple, Stupid. And for the purpose of this conversation, it’s about the goal of the writing. Ultimately, what do you, as the writer, expect to accomplish when you type THE END or the last period?
Short or long in length, know what the reader is to gain at the end of the experience. Then boil it down the basics and ask:
Is the writing: Fiction or Non-fiction?
Is the writing: Interrogative and possibly interactive?; Is the writing: Persuasive?; Is the writing Informative, possibly a teaching vessel?
Is the reader: age group or education level relevant. If so, what?
Is the reader: gender or nationality (as specific to the target audience)?
Is the reader: coming to this literary work with certain expectations?
In keeping with the spirit of (5) ingredients, the answers to these five (5) questions can significantly narrow the writing field and hone the goal, allowing the writer to KISS.
As I write Romantic Suspense, based in U.S. cities, my finished products will be:
2) Persuasive (I do believe in selling the concept of love), and Informative (each of my fiction endeavors teaches or explores a concept, whether hobby, career, or location).
3) Readers will be between 18 and still breathing, hopefully with breathy pants if the sexual tension is done well. Education level – because my writing is to entertain, I carefully tread the language level, but strive for the highest level of grammatical correctness.
4) Readers are generally female, with some cross culture nationality.
5) Readers expect a HEA – or Happily Ever After.
Simple, straight-forward answers that give me a definite goal to accomplish with my writing. Complex comes with all the other steps, and will be explored in future articles. Yet, even the layers of complexity must be kept simple enough to entertain, enthrall, and enrapture the reader with my characters and my writing.
Simple and Complex – the perfect recipe for delicious writing.
Drop by the porch again.