By Peggy Thomas
If you have a tendency to cram every bit of research into your nonfiction, then watch The Great British Bake Off!Seriously. It’s a lesson in editing.
Some of the challenges take 5 hours to complete. During that time, several cameras stalk the bakers, filming from every angle as they measure, sift and stir. But do we see every minute?
No, we do not. The show’s editors select only the images and audio needed to tell a specific story in the 1-hour time frame. They show only what we need to know.
We need to know enough about the recipe so we understand the challenge and will be able to judge who has excelled and whose soufflé flopped. We don’t see all the bakers; just the ones who are doing very well, and those who forgot to add the eggs.
Then, just before a commercial, judge Mary Berry says, “I’m worried about Jamal,” or Gasp! The top layer of a cake tilts. The editors want us to worry. They strategically created mini cliffhangers to hustle us back from the freezer with our Dove bars.
You need to be selective too.
Show readers only what they need to know. Select the facts and anecdotes that provide enough background so they will understand the subject. That might mean skipping over the middle years in the development of an invention or leaving out the spouse in a bio.
Then create mini cliffhangers by placing a problem or question at the turn of a page in a PB, or at the end of a MG chapter.
The ingredients, or research, you didn’t use?
Bake another cake!