Half Baked Bread and Words

https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/kaiser-rolls-recipe

They weren’t half baked but might as well have been. I followed the recipe, mostly. Used all the right measurements but instead of throwing the flour, butter, eggs, water and yeast together in a bowl, I activated the yeast in the warm water first. That couldn’t be the reason for the ‘Kaiser roll’ fail. Look at the finished product though. They looks  picture perfect. It’s kind of like having all your words lined up, grammatically correct, following the rules for good form, but there’s no enjoyment for the reader.

I’ve written pages and pages of this kind of writing. It’s all sing-songey, melodic phrases, perfectly timed physical attributes secreted between narrative and dialogue, but it’s all junk. I’m talking about the kind of writing that says nothing. Maybe, possibly it has a nice sound to it but there’s no getting lost in the story.

I want to be better than that. I want to plunge the reader into the character’s world with such powerful force that there’s no choice but to read through the night until the story is done. That’s not going to happen if I put myself in a trance over how eloquent I am.

Making good bread doesn’t happen because the measurements are right (unless you’re using a bread machine and is that really making bread?). It happens when the right ingredients, are handled in a way that allows the bread to rise, become something way better than powdered wheat, leavening, salt, milk and butter.

So what am I saying? Don’t buy a bread machine, get your hands into the dough? Actually no, but that’s a good idea. I’m saying don’t get caught up in the mechanics and using predictable writer’s tricks to describe scenes. Get your mind into the story you want to tell, let your creative spirit work its way through until you produce something that is the stuff of life. Isn’t that what good bread is? It’s also what good writing is.

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