Monday, March 1, 2010

Embrace the Unusual in Writing and a New Twist with Chocolate


Writers, free yourselves from all notions about what can or cannot be done in a book. If you can make it work, then it works. Huh?

I just finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain, a novel by Garth Stein. The narrator is a dog. Yep, a dog, Enzo. Can the narrator of an adult novel be a dog? May I repeat: If you can make it work, then it works. And I think, Garth Stein makes it work in this, his third novel.

According to the book jacket, "Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs). . ." Enzo's master is a race car driver with a wife and daughter and novel-worthy problems.

I love this book. I love dogs. My Young Advisor loves dogs, too, but she guesses correctly that this book will bring the reader some tears so she is not planning to read it. However, the story is also funny and uplifting so I think it is worth the read. Note to Young Advisor: I plan to continue to "encourage" you to read this book. And, I encourage all writers to read it too. Let it be an inspiration to try something new in your writing.


Pick an unlikely narrator and write a story. Go crazy! Make your coffee cup the narrator. It's just for fun and to give your brain a jolt. Give it a try. Write for ten minutes. Let it rest a week or so. See if there is anything to develop.

And for a chocolate jolt, here is a recipe from Martha Stewart's magazine, Everyday Food, March 2010 issue. This recipe uses pizza dough. Our theme in writing and chocolate for this post is -- Unusual.


Sweet Soft Chocolate Pretzels

1-pound store-bought pizza dough, thawed if frozen

all-purpose flour, for work surface

1/2 cup chopped chocolate

olive oil, for bowl and baking sheet

3 tablespoons baking soda

2 tablespoons sugar (It calls for "coarse" sugar. Just go for regular sugar if you want to.)

Place dough on lightly floured work surface, sprinkle with chocolate. Gently knead to incorporate. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 1 hour.

Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece into an 18-inch long rope. Shape dough into pretzels. Transfer pretzels to an oiled baking sheet and let rest 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add baking soda. In batches, boil pretzels until puffed and slightly shiny, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a wire rack to drain. Return pretzels to baking sheet; sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.

Serve warm or at room temperature. (To store, keep at room temperature, up to 2 days.)

Note on forming pretzels: Form each dough rope into a U-shape and twist ends twice. Fold twisted end down and pinch to secure.

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