shake it up like you have a recipe

I really enjoyed the writing prompt I featured in shake things up a bit where I wrote in the format of a job application from the perspective of Jesse from Once Upon a Time in Iowa. It’s a great prompt for playing with my characters and storyline for Once Upon a Time in Iowa.

Tell a story in a unique form. It can borrow the format of a question & answer session, the writing on the back of a cereal box, shopping list, job application, business profit and loss statement, recipe, etc. The key here is getting creative.

Cassandra Lipp — Writer’s Digest

Because Mary Cardelia is the cook of the family, I thought she would be an excellent candidate for writing in the format of a recipe. At first, I wasn’t certain if I would write it from her perspective, like maybe she’s writing a recipe for a friend, or would I write her as a recipe. What, after all, does recipe format entail? I’m a recipe writer. How hard can this be?

a recipe for Mary Cardelia


  • heaping helping of confidence
  • overflowing with love
  • laced with compassion
  • sprinkling of sugar for sweetness
  • just a dash of young naivete
  • mix of all the emotions of growing up


Toss Mary Cardelia into a situation where she just can’t resist throwing caution to the wind. Use her love for her baby sister against her by creating a chance to break her little heart or run off, willy nilly, and save the day.

Remember to add in just a bit of chastising from Momma. After all, this is certainly not the way a young lady should behave.

Surround her with family and love. Give her enough brothers to make her head spin. Twist it up with a baby sister to look after and enjoy the tugs of childhood just a little bit longer with.

So many good recipes come with fruit, and this is one of them. Place Mary Cardelia and the Hecox family on their farm and give them apple and pear trees to harvest and sell. These fruits she can use to make delicious treats for her family and friends.

Dump in a brother whose been away working on the railroad, bring along the surprise ingredient of a cute friend and watch Mary Cardelia squirm.

Heat it all to sizzling in the hot summer sun and see what happened Once Upon a Time in Iowa.

That was actually a lot of fun to write. More fun than the job application of Jesse Messer. I’m not entirely certain if it is actually a recipe to mix up a Mary Cardelia or if it became more of a teaser for what’s coming for her. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I’m definitely going to continue to hang on to this prompt and consider using it again another time. How about you? Did this prompt inspire you to write anything in an obscure or abstract format? If so, drop your links in the comments section below.


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