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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Maintain a Balance When Writing

In writing my stories, I am aware I must restrain my impulses to throw everything into the mix. Writing a book is a lot like cooking up a new recipe. It helps to know the specific amounts required for each addition. Otherwise, the plot may become unbelievable. Though fiction is not real, it must appear authentic to the reader. Maintaining a balance of ingredients creates a satisfying tale.

The best analogy I have to illustrate this point is one of my early forays into cooking with garlic.

Despite owning only one cookbook, my mother excelled in baking. She whipped up pies, cakes, cream puffs. and cookies with ease. Her mouth-watering treats were a delight. However, her standard fare for supper tended to be simple, comfort food: spaghetti with meat sauce, meatloaf, cottage ham with potatoes and cabbage, baked chicken, and, occasionally, stuffed cabbage.

When I was a child, she never used garlic. I grew up knowing nothing about garlic. After I was married and had purchased several cookbooks, I began to experiment in the kitchen and at one point I decided to try a recipe for chicken which involved adding one clove of garlic. (This incident occurred eons before the Internet was invented.)

I didn't know the difference between a clove of garlic and a bulb of garlic. I hadn't read the entire cookbook, which might have enlightened me. I thought the entire bulb was what was supposed to be added. So I chopped up all that garlic and added it to my chicken. It was an great deal of work to chop up all those little sections. After all that effort, I decided adding garlic to any dish was far too much work

The chicken dish I made was very, very garlicky. I couldn't eat much of it. It was very disappointing after all the effort I put into it. Afterward, I skipped all the recipes with garlic for a while.

Sometime later while reading another cookbook, I realized my blunder. I was embarrassed, but also relieved to know that I didn't have to go through an excessive amount of effort to put together a very tasty dish. It only took a little garlic, a clove or two, to add a wonderful flavor to a meal.

I think of this when I am plotting my stories and struggling to balance the all the parts of the story. It takes a little of this and a little of that, sifted in carefully, to pull readers in and keep them turning the pages.

Know the difference between a clove and a bulb. Make it tasty but not overwhelming. 😋

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