Last night I made oatmeal raisin cookies. I modified the recipe to substitute half of the butter for applesauce and whole wheat flour instead of bleached flour. I wanted to make them healthier; a little less artery-clogging. In a dream world, these super cookies would have tasted as good, if not better, than their evil cousins. But the world doesn’t work like that. Who am I kidding?
Even after the last batch of cookies had been baked, there was one note in the recipe that stuck in my mind, and prompted this post:
“(over mixing develops the gluten, making a tough cookie.)”
This hint came right after the direction to mix the flour into the creamed ingredients “until no flour is visible.” This got me thinking about my first manuscript, which I just started reading again with fresher eyes. It occurred to me that my manuscript is not unlike the cookie dough.
Huh? Yes, I just compared my manuscript to oatmeal raisin cookie dough. With the cookie dough, there is a fine line between mixing just enough and too much. Mixing just enough yields the reward of chewy cookies. The penalty for mixing too much is oatmeal raisin hockey pucks.
My manuscript started out as ingredients in the bowl. The goal of each round of editing (stirring) was to weed out unnecessary adjectives, adverbs and basically anything that didn’t move the story forward (mix in the flour until completely blended). I trimmed thousands of words from my manuscript and my heart felt like I had a strong story (chewy cookies.)
Now I wonder, did I edit (stir) it too much? Did I polish it until it dulled? One of the agents reviewing it has promised helpful rejections. I’m crossing my fingers for some insight.
In case you’re curious, yes, I ended up with tough cookies. I’m nothing if not consistent. I still have hope that one day I may get the divine revelation as to how to stir in the flour until it isn’t visible without over-mixing. As in all areas of my life, I look to the light 🙂
My husband tried the cookies and he didn’t gag or grimace. Bless him; he will eat oatmeal raisin cookies even if they crumble in his hands. Now, if I can just find a literary agent with the same taste…
How do YOU know when (if) you’ve stirred (edited) too much?