Having reached the point where I’m staring at a blank page, compelled to fill it with words but having no idea where they will come from, I’m blogging. Now in my mind, that is not such a bad thing. Actually, because of Christmas coming up rapidly (where did the year go??) I have this wild idea about equating writing to making cookies. Yeah, I know. Crazy, right? How do they compare? But if you bear with me for a moment, I can make a pretty good argument.
It’s simple, really. Cookies are made from a recipe. The components vary, but everything in a cookie ingredient list usually belongs in one of three categories: the base, the flavoring, and the icing. You’re going to tell me that not all cookies have icing, aren’t you? You’re right, but I’m giving that category a really broad pool to pull from. It’s like this…
A cookie’s base is the flour and sugar (or oats, grains, or whatever basic ingredients your cookie is made from) and enough moisture to make the dough stick together. Water, butter, milk – it doesn’t matter. It makes the other ingredients adhere. Like a cookie base, your story base is the basic bones of your idea, the beginning, middle and end, with scenes and acts (the moisture) in between those three as needed to round everything into a cohesive ball of story dough.
See where this is going?
So the next category is the flavoring. In our baking, these are the spices and extracts that make our cookies taste orange instead of vanilla, or like nutmeg instead of ginger. In the same way, we flavor our story with our characters and the situations we dump them into. The caramel-rich flavor of your heroine who exhibits an unexpected pepper-pot of rebellion against her upbringing, or the extra-sharp flavor of your hero with a meltaway core for babies or stray cats. Throw some cinnamon into the relationship between them, or give them a lake of cayanne to get through with the promise of a rich and savory ever-after if they persevere. Add the unexpected – sour or tangy, acrid and bitter, sticky or tender – to keep the flavor interesting and your recipe different from every other cookie recipe.
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