The Under Ground Writing Project

Making writers right since 2008.

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Baking at Altitude

Posted by Ali on January 16, 2013 at 6:50 PM

When you live at high alititude, this is how baking works:

You find a recipe, you know the one, Death by Chocolate brownies, or Make Your Tastebuds Explode with Joy cheesecake, and you're in a baking mood, so off you go. You measure the ingredients with care, mix them with love, pour the mix into the baking dish, and pop that bad boy into the oven.

Some time later, the timer tells you that your lovely dessert is ready. Except, it isn't. The middle is still all jiggly. Your recipe probably says something about probing the confection with a toothpick or a knife to check for doneness. When you draw back your probe, it's covered in goo. That's not right.

Back in the oven it goes. You let it go for another ten minutes, surely that will do the trick. You check. No luck. Ten more minutes... and so the cycle repeats until, finally, the gooey middle has set and your knife comes back clean. As it turns out, all the waiting was worth it. Those brownies are To Die For!


Sometimes, that's writing. Or, rather, pre-writing. A while back, I got an idea. It started with a woman who has no face. Every day, she has to draw herself a face, or else she won't have one. I liked this idea, except it wasn't a story. What does the woman want? What's the conflict? I wanted something with life or death stakes, no subtle literary stuff here.


I know how my mind works, so I held on to this idea, but I tossed it to the back of my mind, a.k.a. the oven. Every now and again, I pulled it out and did a bit of what iffing, trying on different scenarios. Each time, the knife came out gooey. Back in the oven it went until, finally, the batter set and I realized the woman with no face was a hitman and the conflict was a job she didn't want to do, but failing to kill the assigned person meant she was in danger herself. Pretty standard issue stuff, but it fits.


Now the idea is baked. There's still some finishing touches to do - a bit of frosting here and there - but I feel like I can start writing the story now. The idea is ready to eat.

Categories: Writing Process, Advice, Writers

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