Easy as Cooking Stew


Writers create a host of rules to improve their writing, and often impose these same rules on other writers. This can lead to wars. Mention the topics of passive sentences, adverbs, word length, filter words or a host of other subjects and you’ll find passionate supporters and deniers. It’s very wearing, even when all you do is follow the conflict.

I believe the writing is often very much like cooking a stew. You begin with a meat, add some vegetables, and finish it off with spices. Properly done, the result satisfies the appetite. Make a mistake and it was a waste of time.

Stay with me for a moment longer. No matter what I tell you about making a stew, I’m certain that you could find an exception. Let me give you an example.

Start by cutting up some meat.

WAIT! What about a fish stew?


What about an egg stew?

Egg Stew? Is there one?


There are stews with and without cream. There are stews with and without vegetables. Some stews have almost no spices aside from a bit of salt. Curry has a multitude.

It’s the same with writing. Some stores start in the third person; others in the first person; still others in the second person, although they are rare.

Some stories have large gobs of description. Others have almost none. Some stories contain sentence fragments. Others are spiced up with adjectives and adverbs.

In the end, balance is the thing. The key factor to applying rules is the same one you use in cooking the stew. Try to put everything in balance, and season to taste. You can use pepper, but don’t drown the stew in it.

Try new recipes and discover what works for you. Try the writing rules and discover what works for you.

It’s as easy as pie. But that’s another story.