Beth Bernobich


by Beth Bernobich
(c) May 2004

Some Ingredients:

Characters, plot, backstory, setting, description, conflict, tension, theme, subtext, allusion, pacing, climax, resolution, logic, whimsy, surprise, and prose.

A Note About Quantities:

Quantities of each depend on the serving size. For novels, consider the addition of subplots and a greater quantity of secondary and minor characters. However remember that if you start with the ingredients for a short story and later decide to make a novel, you cannot simply double the quantities.

Steps to Prepare:

Mix characters and plot. Blend well and set aside to rise.

Stir together equal helpings of conflict and tension. Remember that the pacing used to stir will affect the story's consistency and flavor. (See footnote 1)

When characters and plot are ready, layer these with backstory, setting, and description. For a fuller heavier story, fortify with theme, subtext, and allusion.

Add whimsy and logic to taste.

Top with a climax and resolution. (See footnote 2)

Sprinkle with surprises. (Do not overdo.)

Beat prose until smooth.

Bake until done. You can test readiness by inserting a beta reader. If the reader comes away with a smile, the story is done.

Transfer to an ungreased envelope with a SASE. (See footnote 3)

Submit and wait for a response. (Note: those without an agent might need to adjust their response times to account for lower altitudes.)


(1) If preparing fiction for those who require a high-literary diet, take care to use only internal conflict.

(2) Though some writers consider these ingredients to be optional, we strongly suggest including at least a soupçon of each for a richer flavor.

(3) Overseas writers should convert to IRCs or, where available, e-mail.

Final Comments:

As with any other recipe, remember to have fun and clean up the dishes as you go.