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Deadlines and Sugar Cookies

     Writers work in all different ways.

     Some writers need to have every plot point outlined. They have character charts, sketches and webs on every major and minor character. They write a plot treatment. They outline. They write out samples of dialogues and scenes in order to get a feel for their main character. They need to see to the end in order to know where they are going. They might even eat sugar cookies while they plot.

     Other writers need just a hazy view of what’s coming up ahead, if that. At the most, they might have some plot points lurking in the back of their mind. For these writers, the magic and story come as they write. If they try to write an outline, they stumble into writer’s block and the fun is gone. Maybe they would rather eat fruit cake sugar cookies while they write.

     Oh, yeah. Back to sugar cookies. Either way, a writer will hopefully at some point be under a deadline, whether it’s the revisions, the copyedits, or the sequel. 

     I had a deadline. A sugar cookie one. 

     My son had a secret santa party last week. He had to bring in a homemade gift. I thought I had until Wednesday, but on Monday, I found out it was due on Tuesday.

     I panicked. 

     He had made nothing. Or I should say, I hadn’t planned out a cute gift that he could make from cheap craft supplies that wouldn’t fall apart before the child made it home. (Teachers, I would much rather buy a 3-5 dollar gift.)

    So after my failed biscotti venture, I needed a boost in my cooking confidence. I needed a homemade gift for my son. I needed to bake sugar cookies and decorate them with my children. Because all good moms make Christmas Cookies. Right? 

     I’ve only ever had self-imposed deadlines when it comes to my writing. But I’ve learned that when it comes to sugar cookies, I definitely work best with a deadline. And not a self-imposed one.

     How did it all turn out? The decorated Christmas trees, bells, and stars were a smash hit. 

Look away if you are a super mom and make twenty different colors of frosting for your cookies.

    (And I don’t think it mattered that I used Betty Crocker’s vanilla frosting on all the cookies – even the trees.)

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Characters to die for…

I went undercover. My name was “Barbie Doll”.

(Okay so I had to borrow my daughter’s Helen of Troy wig from

Halloween. I tried.)

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. My partner in crime was “T.Redd”.

(The rapper medallion around his neck is really my son’s

soccer jamboree medal. You’ve got to realize the nearest

iparty is like 45 minutes away.)

     Our job?

     Solve a murder.

     I took on the persona of a ditzy  blonde popstar/

aspiring actress. I told fibs. I eavesdropped.

I followed leads. But the night of mystery left me

befuddled. I was a minor character without a big role

to play. A smoke screen. A red herring. A disappointment.

     So, the morning after (with the perp caught and

arrested) I sipped my coffee while comparing a story’s characters

to the character I played. Even if a character or

subplot is a redherring or a humorous sidekick, we still

want that character to have a purpose.

     So, if you pulled a character, combined two characters,

or pulled a subplot from your story–would it affect the main

storyline?

     I say it should. If not? Why have it in your story? Can you give

that character or subplot more meaning? More of a

connection to the main plot? Try it. You might be surprised.

     How did my night as a ditzy blonde/undercover sleuth

turn out?

     I had fun with friends. I celebrated a close friend’s

milestone 30th birthday. And once I realized I didn’t

play a big part, I flirted with my rapper bad guy husband.

(And, hey, I even convinced a couple people that I was

the murderer.)

     Are your characters pulling their weight? Are they to die for?

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