A Recipe for Becoming a Writer
(The Brownie Principle)
Almost everyone likes brownies. Oh, there may be a few health food devotees who distain sugary sweets of any kind; but most of us relish the mouthwatering idea of the universal treats that are small enough to assuage our guilt as we satisfy our natural cravings. Among self-acknowledged chocoholics, there is no debate about the yumminess of brownies.
Who among the world of chocoholics would turn down a brownie? Especially if they are plentiful or easily obtained? In my opinion, they would devour them regularly, if sparingly, much like smokers who light up cigarettes knowing that tobacco tars are bad for their health. The question is; what makes them plentiful? Or obtainable? If you live within proximity of a modern urban community, chances are that every supermarket will sell packaged brownie mix, and offer more than one brand. The Betty Crocker brand is perhaps my favorite, but I won’t turn my back on what Duncan Hines puts into his boxes. In the end, it all depends on what recipe tastes best when mixed and baked according to the directions, including adherence to the correct time and temperature in the oven.
What does any of the discussion about brownies have to do with writing, or becoming a writer? At the heart of the matter is the equivalence of principles that compose the ingredients that make good brownies, or good writers. Both Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines know what the ingredients are; and although their individual recipes may vary a wee bit and thus express their individuality as successful bakers, their fame marks them as accomplished practitioners of their art. Accomplished writers are people who also know what the basic ingredients are; and use them in various recipes that appeal to the consuming public of readers.
A would-be writer must start with knowing what ingredients are proper for the recipe of the item(s) one wishes to promote and share; then to assemble the blend of ingredients in proper amounts; and at the proper times. Knead the dough of story line into a bowl of appropriate substance, smoothly blend in bits of local color, add a pinch of WOW factor, and a sprinkle of suspense. Blend the ingredients so that they are not too stiff, nor too thin. Strong vocabulary words may be preferable in some cases, but the taste should not be overpowering. The food should not only taste good, it should look good.
Sometimes the recipe calls for setting certain ingredients aside; and adding them later. That is why getting the reader’s interest starts with flavorful ingredients that are blended in such a way that they are neither lumpy nor runny, thus can be ladled into the mold designed for the expected product. Good syntax is the main blending agent. Use as needed, to avoid lumpiness. Visually and psychologically, huge brownies and long paragraphs are not the most appetizing, so should be avoided. On the other hand, tiny pieces do not satisfy one’s natural appetite when that particular hunger pangs.
When the brownie mix of a story is ready for baking, double check to make sure that it is not so short that it is dismissed as insignificant; nor too long such that it may never be finished before it becomes stale. As an example, and despite their grandeur as confections; wedding cakes are beyond consideration for an individual, just because of their size. But brownies are just the right size and have fairly predictable qualities. And anybody can make brownies, as long as they follow the directions.
Anybody can be a writer; and everyone is a potential reader. That said, it is now time to get down to realities. One reality is that brownie mix purchased in a store is the creation of a Betty Crocker or a Duncan Hines. A writer who uses their pre-mixed recipe might as well hire them as ghost writers. As we all know, many celebrities have books in print; but not many of them have, themselves, done all the laborious tasks of organizing the ingredients, doing the blending, the kneading, adding the condiments, and waiting patiently as the baking peaks to its perfection of aroma and glaze. The ghost writer uses somebody else’s bowl of ingredients, but their own recipe and baking skills.
The would-be writer and baker of brownies who eschews outside assistance and commercial recipes must learn for themselves what the proper ingredients are; must be prepared to acquire them; must have a plan to assemble them and measure them into a blend that will be appetizing to readers; then bake them diligently into a product that is appealing. Anyone can read about the ingredients, but if the would-be writer is unwilling or unable to acquire them and to personally blend them into something palatable, there will be no brownies and no stories. Making brownies and telling stories takes more than a stated desire to satisfy a craving.
Finally, except for one’s own family that may not complain if the story or the brownie is not so great; true satisfaction of accomplishment in sharing comes when the finished product is packaged and made available through appropriate outlets. It is not enough to love reading stories or eating brownies. They must be available where readers go for their enjoyment; and where chocoholics go for their fix.