Cooking Up a Story

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

I like to cook and bake almost as much as I love writing. Spending time in the kitchen is relaxing, satisfying, and hopefully the results are tasty. I’ve discovered my passion for writing has a lot in common with food prep. Cooking makes me a better writer.

Look at the following comparisons; I think you’ll understand what I mean. 

Decide on a Recipe

When the mood strikes, I must decide what to cook. Similarly, I must choose a storyline. Contemporary romantic suspense is my preferred genre, and my writing recipe also needs an intriguing storyline with courageous characters.

The Right Ingredients

For a taste treat to win over 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. Those emotions transfer to a reader’s experience. Growth and change happen when the character’s method of handling stress leads to critical errors and new measures of problem-solving flow fresh. 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 slashing weak plot points. Using strong verbs and powerful nouns establishes a meatier story than sliding in adjectives and adverbs. Is the dialogue in character? Is the setting antagonistic, so the character is forced to struggle? Where can I condense a sentence or phrase to a single word?

Don’t be Afraid to Vary a Recipe

Story is king. Nothing reigns over story. While a writer follows rules and guidelines taught by professionals in the industry, sometimes those same principles need to be tweaked. Try something new. Does it work?

Stir Thoroughly

Quality writing means shaking up my character’s comfort zone. 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 a specific time, 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 work diligently and hope the book will be delicious, satisfying, and leave the reader wanting for more.

Are you ready to cook up a story?