Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What Soy Sauce Can Teach Us About Writing


A couple of posts back I wrote about the importance of including the sense of smell in writing. Imagine how smart I felt, then, when I opened Kirstin Chen's novel Soy Sauce for Beginners and found this first sentence:

These are some of my favorite smells: toasting bagel, freshly cut figs, the bergamot in good Earl Grey tea, a jar of whole soybeans slowly turning beneath a tropical sun.
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I believe it is Kirstin Chen's first novel. She does a great job of engaging the reader's senses as she describes her family's generations-old method of making soy sauce.

We can read it and learn.


Look back through your writing. Find a passage that could be improved by adding something about smell, aroma, odor. Rewrite the piece without using any of the words smell, aroma, odor. And if and when you do use them, be sure to choose the word that best fits.

Recently The Kansas City Star newspaper carried a story in which the reporter wrote about the stench of bleach. Was "stench" the best word choice? I asked Gentleman Friend about it. He said he associated stench with something rotting. That was what I thought too; however, Webster's defines stench as "an offensive smell, stink." So, technically, I suppose the use was correct.

Not to belabor the point or beat up on a hard-working reporter on deadline, just saying -- part of the fun of being a writer is choosing the absolutely best word possible when you have the luxury of time.


This recipe is from Judy from her friend, Jean. In fact, unless I have mixed up sources, this is the second recipe from Jean. I searched around on the Internet for a photo. When I found this on, I noticed she said that when she poured the batter into the slow cooker, it was so watery she thought there was no way it would ever become a cake.

The recipe here is not exactly the same as on This Chick Cooks; there are a zillion variations, but this seems to match up pretty well. (And don't you love the pretty blue plate?)

Photo Courtesy of
Slow Cooker Molten Lava Chocolate Cake

1 red velvet cake mix
4 eggs
2 cups sour cream
1 cup water
3/4 cup oil
pk choc fudge pudding mix instant
1 pk milk choc chips
Mix first 6 ingredients until well blended then fold in choc chip's
Pour into well greased slow cooker
crock...cook on low for 4 hours...remove from heat source as soon as cake pulls away from sides.
Serve warm with warm hot fudge topping and whipped cream.

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All rights reserved 2014 There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®

All rights reserved 2014 There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®