Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Musing

Years ago my cousin, Cindy, sent me a cake recipe. It's a simple cake, a combination of cake mix and instant pudding mix baked in a Bundt pan. Her recipe calls for a double shot of chocolate. Now I like chocolate, but not that much, so I started to experiment with different flavors of cake mixes and pudding. The varieties are endless.

Here's a few I've tried with success (success is when they actually eat the cake and don't complain). Cherry cake mix and chocolate pudding tastes like a chocolate covered cherry. A yellow cake mix with butterscotch pudding, chocolate mix with cheesecake pudding, sometimes with a ribbon of actual cheesecake in the center, and yesterday I tried a marble cake mix with pistachio pudding, using the chocolate mix to make a ribbon of chocolate through the center. Of course, the glaze I choose top the cake with can enhance the flavor. A fudge glaze on the butterscotch, a white glaze on the chocolate, and yesterday's cake was topped with an almond flavored glaze.

So why am I talking recipes on a short story blog? Because all stories and genres have a basic recipe, it's what the writer adds to the mix that takes a story beyond the basics and into something special. True, sticking to that basic formula will, if you're a decent writer, get you published. But if you want to step beyond that safe, plain vanilla story, add a little spice or kick in a new flavor to enhance the story, don't be afraid to experiment. You never know what you can create if you don't at least try.


Chris Rhatigan said...

I have two points in response to this:

1) I am hungry for cake.

2) Getting out of the formula is tough... I usually write very short crime fiction with simple plots. But lately I've decided to experiment a bit and I've added some absurd and/or otherworldly elements.

Not sure if it works, but the change has at least gotten the creative juices flowing.

sandra seamans said...

It is hard to break away from the formula, Chris, because it does work. I learned to write flash by always putting a punch line at the end and it took a long time to realize that wasn't the only way to write flash.

Not everything we experiment with is going to work either, but each failure is a lesson in finding what does works for you.

Harry said...

Nice analogy Sandra! Variety does keep things interesting. Now who wants a slice of my creamed corn and lime jello pizza?

sandra seamans said...

I'll pass on your pizza, Harry, but you brought up a good point. The ingredients in your story need to compliment each other. Of course everyone has a different taste appreciation - I never understood the attraction of cabbage and carrots in lime jello.