Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Cryptic Cookie: A Wacky, Writing Exercise!

Can you think of a better way to get wheels turnin' in the cabeza than to reflect upon words of wisdom from the humble fortune cookie?  I should think not.

Because sushi is my addiction (I eat it once a week), the  people at the restaurant around the corner, are extremely nice to me. I come in, get a big, cushy booth all to myself, and pull out my legal pad and pen, then write and eat. Mmm-m!  Sushi and iced tea!  The lunch special of champions (before three p.m., monday through friday).  It's fun to mix work with fun or food,  especially food, if the food is sushi!  Because I'm such a frequent flyer at the restaurant,  I now receive a few perks on each visit, with the best being at the end of each weekly roll-a-palooza, as the tab is being presented to me, the honor of  two fortune cookies instead of one.  Score!

The wait staff are really great people, and at some point during my visit, one or two  of them will stop and ask about the progression of my novel.  "When is it going to be finished?  How many chapters are left?  Can I be a character?  Does anybody eat sushi in your book?"  Yes, these and other assorted questions I have been asked during my weekly roll-a-palooza.  

The wonderful folks there also watch me carefully open the cookies, their eyes wide, as they watch to see if I am pleased with the message within.  After reading the tiny strip, sometimes I giggle to myself, not quite unlike the maniacal laughter of Plankton ("I am going to rule the world!").

But there must be more to the cryptic cookie ritual, to help my evolution as a writer.  So, I'm going to switch it up a bit, and instead of performing the ritual there, I shall crush the spirits of my friends at the sushi restaurant, and bring the cookies home, where I will break them open upon my trusty legal pad beside the computer.  Yes, in the photo, that is a coffee stain, not a tea stain on the fabric, courtesy of a late night urge to change plot.

We can share the cryptic cookie experience together, dear readers, if you would like, so after I type my musings here, feel free to interpret the cookie message as it relates to your writing, characters in your book, work, life, last trip to the bookstore, or walk with your dog.      

Without further adieu, I shall crack open the cookie and reveal this weeks' dose of confectionary cosmic consciousness!   After which, a few moments of silence shall pass, and I will begin typing my interpretation of the cryptic cookie message.

Ok, wrapper is opening, the cookie is in my hands and smells of a nice vanilla-ish scent,  and is rather golden-brown in color.  My hands, with what dexterity is available, are now carefully pulling out this weeks' message.

Can ya'll cue a drumroll, please?

And the message is..."Trust others, but still keep your eyes open."

Um...this is awkward. Okay,  it's not the greatest message ever, and I seriously doubt it was crafted by either Confucius or the Buddah, but it's a good starting point for a weekly creativity exercise.

Now I shall attempt the introspective part of the message and interpretation with regard to my novel I'm writing.  Since in my book, there is quite alot of deceit, I can imagine several characters who trust, but should keep their eyes open.  Could the message be intended for Frank Deveraux or for Lee Stanton?

Hmm.. Let's for a few minutes consider Frank Deveraux, a major character.   However, this message could be intended for a character in my book, such as Frank Deveraux, the C.E.O. of a ficticious company (can't tell you what KIND of company, you will have to read my book), with plans to expand his business empire to South and Central America, and eventually the world.  He is a confidant chap, flamboyant, charming,  sports a devil-may-care attitude and exudes the West Palm Beach lifestyle . But here's the thing about Frank.. beneath his likeable exterior, lies a twisted personality, a bit of sociopathy, and it is such qualities which make him the perfect southern villian.  Just try to imagine Bernie Madoff , wearing a seersucker suit drinking sweet tea on the front porch of Tara,  reading the cookie message with a wicked smile, and you get the picture. He knows there are people who have discovered his dark secret and fears his empire will crumble, like the darn cookie, if the information gets out.

Or could the message be instead for Lee Stanton, another major character, and wife of the national sales director recently hired by Frank Deverauxs' company?  She sees her life changing before her eyes, her husband morphing into a man she doesn't know.  Should she trust him or should she trust the uneasy feeling she felt one evening sitting on the back deck gazing at the stars?  All on the surface seems right about her world, but yet deep within, there is an uneasiness.  Should she feel concern her husband hasn't returned her text?  Could this cookie message be for Lee?

I think the cryptic cookie exercise is great for getting the creativity flowing again, but it is also great for brainstorming if you are feeling the urge to write but wonder what exactly to write?  The next time you open a fortune cookie, try to use the message to write a paragraph.  Think of the message, and to possibly whom the message would fit for.  If we use todays' cryptic cookie message, then it is not a stretch to imagine the message could be applicable to a spy or a scientist working on a secret project.

If you get a minute, write your interpretation of the cookie message.  How does the message relate to the novel you are writing and to the characters?  What kind of book could you write just using the cookie message?  A thriller?  A romance?

If the cookie exercise doesn't get it for you, here's a wonderful link to an article I found especially helpful in overcoming the dreaded writers' block.

Overcoming Writers' Block

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