A book in 3 acts


In my last post I talked about writing a book on the experience of starting a business. One thing I’ve learned by taking the writing course and also by working with Marion Roach Smith is that you can’t just write about all the good stuff. Well, you can, but readers will quickly get bored and move on. The instructor in my class said, “when in doubt, write about more stress and less success”.

There’s certainly been lots of stress and mistakes made at PGB but it’s been helpful to have those admonitions because I know it would be easier to launch into a tale of how great everything has been since Day 1. I wouldn’t mention the way the minis slid under the inserts on the first day and created a giant mush in the bottom of every box or that the original ovens were completely useless and lasted less than two months. Neither of those points would make the cut but I do get that someone thinking about opening his or her own business needs to know that it is going to be a rough ride “no matter what”.

As well, I’ve learned that the book structure is essential to keep the reader’s attention and interest.  Specifically, a book about one’s experience needs to (1) present a problem in the first act, (2) sort of solve that issue in the  second act but throw out a new one; and (3) wrap things up in the third act. And all of this while still being true!

Anyway, as it currently stands my outline in three acts is:

Act 1 opens with a scene that happened 5 minutes into PGB’s first Valentine’s Day – the revelation that “Red Velvet” cupcakes would have a very special place in customers’ hearts that day…the first of many mistakes, big and small, on this journey. Will return to this theme throughout the book. The main body of the Act has scenes about how creating and serving food has played a huge role all my life, but why I went the route of law and accounting. I also cover the mistakes I made and lessons learned in my corporate career, my departure from banking, and the year after our wedding trying to figure out what to do with myself at age 48. At the end of Act 1, I know I want a bakery but I want to work on it, not in it with no idea how to do this.

Act 2 opens with the challenge of figuring out how to have a bakery: scenes about taking classes on costing baked goods, finding a head baker and solving endless problemsIn the middle of the Act, I realize it is a success but realize that, unlike children, a business doesn’t “grow up and leave home”. So I had the  unexpected question about how to expand or otherwise keep the business growing/evolving, as well as wanting to do other things in my own life. Around me, my family and husband’s lives are changing so much.

Act 3 is about the place I’ve come to – the place of PGB in my life now and how it has been, and is, an adventure that has given me so much and in so many unexpected ways.

In my next post, I really will update you on the protein cupcake adventure because so much has happened there since the holidays….

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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