How Cooking Makes Me a Better Writer

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

I love to cook and bake. It’s relaxing, satisfying, and hopefully the results are tasty. I’ve discovered my passion for writing has a lot in common with food prep. In fact, cooking makes me a better writer.

Look at the following, and I think you’ll understand what I mean.

Decide on a recipe
Just like I must decide what to cook, I must choose a genre. For me, contemporary romantic suspense is my preference. My recipe also needs an intriguing story line.

The right ingredients
For a taste treat to win others, decisions are in order. Who are my characters? What is their problem? Where is my story set?

Measure precisely
Story needs a balance of action and narrative woven with character emotions. In turn, those emotions transfer to reader experience. Character growth and change take place when the method of handling stress leads to critical errors resulting in new measures of problem solving and fresh attitude. How many mistakes will my character face? Can the reader see measurable growth?

Cut and dice
Editing is the part of story writing where scenes are cut and diced. Making a story stronger means weak plot points must be slashed. The use of strong verbs and nouns establishes a meatier story than sliding in adjectives and adverbs. Is dialogue in character? Is the setting antagonistic so the character is forced to struggle? Where can a sentence be condensed to a phrase or a phrase to a single word?

Don’t be afraid to vary a recipe
Story is king. Nothing reigns over the magnificence of a well-crafted tale. While a writer follows rules and guidelines taught by professionals in the industry, sometimes those very same principles need to be tweaked. Try something new. Does it work?

Stir thoroughly
Quality writing means to shake up my characters. Force them to step into the unknown and forbidden. Throw in an ingredient midway that forever changes the story. Get your characters dirty. Make them smile, cry, angry, sad, and lonely. Always create the unpredictable.

Every story needs time to bake. When I walk away from my computer and refuse to open the file (oven door) for as long as possible, the result is a fresh concept, and I can tell if it’s finished or needs a little more time.

A writer never knows how readers will respond to a story. I can only do my best and hope the book will be delicious, satisfying, and leave the reader wanting more.

How does cooking relate to other areas of your life?

DiAnn Mills


library-nookDiAnn’s Library Corner

Librarian –  Engage your younger patrons by asking them their favorite meal. Create a board with their recommendations. Use pictures and even recipes straight from the child’s mouth.

Southern Writers Suite T button














Comments 10

  1. Frances Wilson

    Hi DiAnn
    Thanks for this. It is right up my alley. I am glad to know there is someone who
    relates cooking to writing. I love cooking up a story.
    in fact, I am basing the devotional I am working on diet, and appetite. While I was on
    the mission field, a non English speaker spoke on Psalm 1. Instead of saying His delight is in God’s law, he said diet. It was a simple error, but a funny and true one.
    I would love to have my diet in God’s words.

  2. Vondia Caruso

    Excellent!…Re: Cut and Dice….It makes me think of Hebrews 4:11 and how the Word of God deals with me and all His children. Because He wants us to stand before Him with clean hands and a pure heart, there are things that must be cut out of our spirit and soul and the Word of God which is sharper than any twoedged sword is His instrument to accomplish that. I guess that means that when we are in His Word we must all be “edited” by our precious Holy Spirit!…:~)

    Great recipe, DiAnn

  3. MS Barb

    Loved this comparison!
    You asked if I could relate it to something in my personal life–yes, quilting! (especially if I’m trying to design my own (simple!) pattern)

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