Thursday, June 25, 2009

Novel Cookies

Not only do you get my favorite cookie recipe today, but you are also getting an analogy. Wow, this must be some Thursday! :D

So get ready for me to cook up some parallels, but first the recipe:
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup shortening
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

  • Preheat oven to 350

  • Place butter and shortening in mixing bowl and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugars, beating until blended. Add egg and vanilla, beating well.

  • Combine flour, soda, and salt in medium bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in chocolate morsels.

  • Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Now for the analogy ~

Every ingredient listed above is essential for the recipe to turn out right. If you are a writer you know the same holds true for how you write your novel. If you are reader you know when something has “been left out” or if there is something missing in a book, right?

I’m going to give you my thoughts on what each ingredient listed above represents when you are writing a novel.

The butter or margarine, softened = Appropriate POV. This can be such a sticking point, can’t it? First person? Third person omniscient? I so admire how Barbara Kingsolver pulled off shifting first person in The Poisonwood Bible. Like the butter for the dough, the POV will help determine how smooth the novel will be.

The shortening = Setting. Does the reader know where the story is taking place? Can they get a feel for the environment? It’s one of the kicker ingredients that isn’t always done right or is sometimes overdone, but when it’s done right it can make the whole novel better.

The firmly packed light brown sugar = Climax. A “firmly packed” scene that makes the reader audibly say, “Ah ha!” or “Ohhhh” in that soft knowing way.

The granulated sugar = Characters to care about. It’s all in the sugar! At least for me it is. I love character-driven novels, so it’s no wonder I chose sugar for the characters. They really make or break a book for me, sweeten me to keep reading or bland it out so much I simply put it down.

The large egg = Believable dialogue. You don’t just need a good egg and a bad egg (aka a protagonist and an antagonist) you also need dialogue that works. Conversations need to be included for a reason, to push the tension and plot forward, to ratchet up the reader’s excitement and urgency to know the characters. If the writer isn’t incorporating believable dialogue into the novel (the way people genuinely speak) it’s as if they left huge hunks of grainy shell in the recipe and it will be noticeable.

The vanilla extract = The hook. Don’t you just love the smell of vanilla extract? My mom used to lift that little brown bottle up to my nose when I was a child, eager to eat the cookie batter and I’d revel in the aroma. It makes you want more. Smelling the vanilla extract geared me up for licking the mixers and eventually tasting a cookie.

The all-purpose flour = Plot, original story. Everyone knows you can’t have a cookie without the flour. Same goes for a plot and even more important is that the story idea is creative and original or hasn't been done four hundred and seventy three times before?

The baking soda = Conflict. After all it's what makes the cookie rise.

The salt = Tension. Constant tension. Salt adds that little spice to the recipe. Could you omit it? Sure, but why when it keeps the reader reading and the cookie tasting perfect?

The semisweet chocolate morsels = Voice. Another favorite of mine. I love being able to recognize the voice of a certain author based on his/her ability to flavor the story with a certain taste. Most people would agree that the chocolate chips are the best part of a cookie. Voice is one of the reasons I love to write, finding my voice, testing it, risking things with it, and experimenting with it. It’s also why I am sure to pick up novel # 4 from an author who has a strong and irresistible voice.

Finally, you can throw in some symbolic nuts just for fun!

Okay, obviously this is a very skeletal, bare-boned example of the novel cookie, but I hope you were able to find it delectable. Let me know if you’d add in any ingredients or make substitutions. What goes into your cookie book?

*cookie recipe from Southern Living at Home
**photo by flickr


  1. What a terrific analogy! I've never thought of cookies that way. And now I want one...

  2. All I could think was - mmmmm, I want chocolate chip cookies!
    Great analogy!

  3. I love baking analogies. Now you've made my sweet tooth hungry.

  4. That is wonderful so when can I come over for cookies LOL.

  5. I love analogies that involve food! You're so smart!

  6. That was an excellent analogy. I can't believe you found something for each ingredient. Impressive stuff, little miss Wendy!

  7. Oh Wendy, you are SUCH a great encouragement to me. God is really blessing me through your comments on my blog. THANK YOU! I struggle with fear when it comes to writing and really want to keep being obedient to Him. (At some point I'll get serious about writing my books...procrastination stinks!) ;-) Seriously, thank you, my Friend!

    This is a GREAT post. SO creative. A friend loaned me Jodi Picoult's book "Handle with Care." It wasn't really my type of book, but the author did something similar by using recipes at the beginning of each chapter and applying them to life. LOVE IT!

    Praying your day is especially sweet today!

  8. You made me hungry! WHen you said you were going to do an analogy based on a recipe--I though how is she going to pull that off??? and you did it amazingly!! Great post!

  9. Yum! I'm having a really fun baking summer with my oldest and we'll have to give this one a go. And, you are right. It's all important stuff, even the littlest of things.

  10. Lol, this is great. I'm going to make these cookies today! Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration.

  11. I could definitely go for one of those cookies right about now. And then come back for another. Which I guess is what we want our readers to do with the perfectly "baked" story, come on back for more!

  12. Great post! Not only did you give us a great recipe ( I love chocolate chip cookies) but you gave us the way to connect this to writing. Thank you.

  13. Oh my goodness this is clever!!! I just talked about gummy candy and literature. I am so wanting sugar today, it's insane.

    Great recipe! Both of them. :D

  14. So, your voice might be dark choc. chip morsels that melt in your mouth and mine might be colorful mini M&M's sprinkled liberally throughout! They will appeal to different people but both are still tastey!

  15. Jill, it was a new thought for me too and I want one too.

    MeganRebekah, that picture has that enticing aspect to it, doesn't it?

    Eileen, I have a sweet tooth big time every night at around 7:50.

    Doodles, you know I'd make 'em for you whenever you say when.

    Juliet, I love food, so creating an analogy that involved food seemed a great way to mix loves. About the smart thing, I pretend well, don't I?

    Katie, some of the stumped me, but I fiddled with it and it seemed tasty as is. Little miss, Wendy...reminds me of a song by the Spindoctors.

    Amy Jo, YOU are the encouragement for me. I am feeling a stirring to post something soon about you and a few others who are really like an electrically plug into the Spirit and God's calling on our lives. Stay tuned for that.

    Haven't read Handle with Care, but I've read several other Picoult's...she's a great story teller and I like how she probes at deep moral questions in her books. It doesn't surprise me she thought of something like this...she's one of those authors who seems to connect certain things, in her books, like my brain does.

    Thank you for the prayer!

    Terri, thanks for the kind words. I kind of wondered how I'd pull it off too when the idea came to me and then I just started typing and thinking and typing and thinking. :D

    Tess, don't you think the little things can be even more important at times. I think I read you are going on a retreat...ENJOY!

    B.J., curious how they turn out...did you gobble them all up like we usually do?

    Joanne, that would be my hope with my writing that people would keep coming back for me. I know your blog has that appeal for me. I love the way you come up with such inventive ideas.

    Ana, I can tell people like my posts on writing. I like to post on writing, but I know I have much to learn so I dabble in all kinds of stuff. Thanks for the compliment.

    Lady, I'm with you. I'm right there at that time that proves I'm a lady and I'm thinking candy, cookies and any sweet thing is welcome at this house all day for the next few days. :D

    Jody, I loved how you came up with a new thing for your cookie book! And M&M's-Yum!

    The sun is out. The sun is out! It's been weeks, I'm telling you. Craving every sweet food under that sun! Thanks for eating and digesting the cookie concept with me today. It was a whirl.

    Who says whirl? Apparently I do when I am keyed up on getting a sugar high.

    Okay, have a peaceful night and remember that God is doing a new thing...

    ~ Wendy

  16. I love to build the tension. I love it's release in sweet scenes of repose. I love making a psychological thriller out of my characters' motivations and actions.

    I'll confess I'm not much for making cookies. I hope I make up for it with what I cook up on a keyboard.

  17. HMMM......beautiful analogy i must say, i liked the last part, the voice. it's taken me a while to find my own unique voice and it still needs tweeking perhaps more salt lol!

    i love this and now i am hungry

  18. Delicious! I can't wait to make these cookies, and love the analogy. Thanks for following my blog too. Can't wait to read more of your writing!

  19. This is such a great post!

  20. I would add nuts. I enjoy characters that are kind'a quirky at times. Must be my warped sense of humor. And yes, I love to bake, and anything with chocolate is heavenly.


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