Lessons for Life, Writing Tips

The Plot Thickens

Here is a little insight into my cooking skills, I’m not good at gravy. I understand the idea of making gravy, you use a liquid, seasoning, and a thickener, heat it all up and you have gravy. When I end up in charge of making the gravy I use the juices left after the meat has cooked, add some bouillon and a bit more water and then I add flour (perfectly mixed in water via quick shake). Then I stir it so it doesn’t burn onto the bottom of the pan, and I get annoyed waiting for forever. So I add more flour (corn starch in some cases), because the gravy looks like soup.

The last few steps repeat about nine times until I’m sure I’ve put in at least a cup of flour for every two cups of water or meat juice. Everyone is ready to eat dinner, but the gravy is still watery. I give up stirring the gravy or monitoring it at all, figuring it’ll just be runny and spread all over everyone’s plates. The food is all set out and I go back to the gravy on the stove, it’s still thin, I add a little more flour and suddenly the gravy is thickening. I think I finally got enough flour, but the gravy keeps getting thicker, as if all the flour decided to wait until it was almost 50/50 with the water. Then I have really thick gravy that has to be watered down because it won’t spread over the potatoes.

My solution is to use canned soup and only add half the water. I realize that my problem is really that I’m not patient enough, but I don’t ever remember that until the gravy is exploding into thickness. I sometimes have a mini freakout (which I hide from everyone waiting to eat), but if I can’t use canned soup, I make sure I don’t volunteer to make the gravy.

When reading, writing, or watching a story, there comes a moment when everything seems to explode. And the plot thickens . . . I feel like there are a few great ways to do this. If you are a better cook than I am, your gravy might thicken slowly and to just the right texture. Some stories might get more complicated little by little until the character realizes that they’re in a tough spot. Or the character might not notice, or nothing seems to happen until all at once and they get a freakout explosion like my gravy experience.

We want things to thicken up in our stories, what makes it thicken and how, is what makes it interesting. Events in a story should compound upon one another, like the various doses of flour, every bit counts. The difference might be noted along the way and the character just keeps trudging along till it’s too hard. Or, the events may be occurring, and it isn’t until all at once that the character sees they are all connected and they are now stuck in the middle of it.

Be sure to use your thickener in your story otherwise it’ll be boring and like reading someone’s journal . . . just kidding, that’s a joke. Plots totally thicken in life too. Like mine, I clicked a button at 11:00 pm, and now I’m doing a masters program. That was an explosion gravy experience with a few other things that added to it. Fun stuff. So, how is your gravy experience? Are you better at making gravy than I am? Do you have one for life? Or are you now going to write a gravy story?

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