I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, January 28, 2011

Biscuits in a Can

Mornings! The aroma of bacon frying in the pan and fresh, made-from-scratch biscuits drew me out of my warm cocoon and lured me to the kitchen table. The flour dust lingering in the air always tickled my nose. I licked my lips as I waited to sink my teeth into hot, mouth-watering biscuits.

Mama opened the oven and grabbed the pan with a well-worn oven mitt. With one swift move, she plopped the pan onto the center of the table. My selfish grab

to get the first hot delight stopped mid-reach. They looked... well, different. All just alike. The same size. Same shape. Cookie cut.

My brother and I exchanged glances. My mom beamed with the satisfaction of a job well done. I bravely reached out, pulled one of the lifeless discs toward me and slowly raised it to my lips. As I took a bite and chewed, I could not hide my disappointment. The poor substitution was worse than I could have imagined. It was downright inedible!

Those so-called "Biscuits in a Can" fell miserably short of tastin' like Mama fixed 'em. She thought she'd done so well by finding a quick, easy way to make morning breakfast. What she succeeded in doing was ruining mornings forever! Ok, not really but the next morning I did not get up in time for breakfast. Why bother?!

I think of that morning often when I sit at my computer creating prose. Surprised? Don't be. I realize readers run to the table (the endless feast of novels in the stacks at the bookstore) anticipating a juicy, mouth-watering story. The last thing they will tolerate is some canned, predictable plot that is just like all the other ones in the pan.

Readers are looking for that unique biscuit. You know, the one with the little bump that sticks out on the side like a handle. It seems strange, perhaps even uninviting, but once they sink their teeth into it, the biscuit tastes so good it makes them rush back for another bite.

Don't settle for the quick and easy shortcuts to writing. If you do, when it's out there on the table, it will be sure to disappoint. Instead, take the time to mix up the batter, knead the dough and plop down that unique blob of flour, water and lard onto the cookie sheet. Shove those words into the oven and let 'em bake a while. When you pull the finished product out, it will bring folks out of their cocoons to buy your book.

Don't disappoint your readers by feeding them biscuits in a can. Give them you! Uniquely you! That's what writers do!

Reba Hoffman


  1. Okay, now this gluten-free gal wants a biscuit--bad!!
    Thanks for the challenge to go beyond the bland when I write, Reebs! I may just sit an empty biscuit can on my desk as a visual reminder!

  2. I love the senses you used when you started this post...drew me in right away. Yes, now I want a biscuit with melted butter and homemade strawberry jam.

    Going beyond the can is what I'm striving for in my prose. I keep asking myself how I can make it better.

    Great post! Thanks for the reminder!

  3. If I could "can" the disappointment I felt that morning and apply it to my prose, I'd NEVER disappoint another reader.

    I'm so grateful for the unique Voice we all have and the willingness to share our voice with the world.

  4. Two things, Reebs:

    1) Suddenly the oatmeal I had for breakfast just doesn't seem to cut it anymore.

    2) "Unique blob." That is very much what my current WIP feels like at the moment. I'm glad you've just affirmed that's not only an okay thing, it's a good thing.

    Oh, wait, there's a third thing:

    3) You make me smile! :)

  5. Great analogy. You are both clever and fun. You are a delicious gift!

  6. Loved this post! My family was thankful for wop (wop m open) biscuits since my homemade discs could kill at 30 paces.
    And never doubt yourself, Reebs...you hava an amazing ability to paint with words.

  7. Reba, I so enjoyed your post and your analogy. You made me want some biscuits and bacon right now! You ladies all bring out the laughs in me. :) As I move forward with my story, I will purpose to "give them me!" Thanks for the memorable lesson. :)

    Beth, I'm happy to give you a GF biscuits recipe!:)

  8. Had I known that morning would bring so much inspiration and laughter to writers, I wouldn't have pouted so much when those really weird things rolled around on my plate! :-)

  9. Chris Potash1/28/11, 3:52 PM

    Amen! Three cheers for the weird, mishapen but delicious biscuits being written right now!

  10. Mmmm. Made my mouth yearn for a delicious biscuit and my heart yearn to write more than ordinary prose. Thanks for the vivid reminder!

  11. Reebs,

    Umm, considering that I cannot make a biscuit (that's edible anyway) from scratch, I have to settle for the biscuits in a can. LOL.

    I really could taste your "desire" for the biscuit. Great job!