Writing is Like Eggs (And Other Things)

Writing is Like Eggs (And Other Things)

When you pick up an egg, do you know what’s inside?

You can have a general idea. The gist of white, the essence of yolk – but will they be good or rotten? In proportion? With or without blood (which comes from fresh eggs, by the way, and is not harmful)?

The only way to know if an idea is good is to crack open the shell.

I opened an egg this morning and found two yolks. That was a real surprise, and – like most things do – it got me thinking about writing. A story idea starts out like an egg. No original ideas, remember? That means that at first, you just have an idea – something that might or might not be good, might or might not stand out as unique.

The only way to find out is to crack that sucker open.

Unfortunately, a story idea isn’t done just because it’s been cracked open. At this point, it’s more like photography.

Unless we know why it works, we can’t consistently make it work.

Photography can be done well on the fly, whether digital or film, but without an understanding of how to work the camera, the results will be haphazard. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Sometimes with gorgeous aspects – like the color and contrast in the pic above – but missing other crucial things, like sharp focus.

Unless we know why it works, we can’t consistently make it work.

So writing is like eggs and photography. It has to be cracked open, has to be tested to see if it’s any good – and then it has to be studied. Unless we know why it works, we can’t consistently make it work – which means patience, diligence, and – yet again – psychotic persistence.

Sometimes, it takes funny little encouragements, too. I visit a local sushi place about once a month, and – in this order – here were the two last fortunes I received:

May your ideas always be like double-yolked eggs and yield some truly stunning photos.


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.