Writing Exercise Inspired by Cupcake Wars

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Of all the reality TV shows to get addicted to, I’ve discovered I like Cupcake Wars(1). In fact, I like it SO much, I have turned into a cupcake snob myself. No longer are plain chocolate or vanilla cupcakes acceptable. Oh no… Even when utilizing store-bought frosting(2), I’m forced to sift cinnamon and add a garnish.

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I rather like the themes they explore, too. Science! Tim Burton! SDCC! Roller Derby! My next mission is to make filled cupcakes, only they’ll likely be cherry-almond a la these Dexter babies from Have You Nerd. I have the butcher knives, already(3).

There’s another side effect of watching Cupcake Wars, however, and that is falling in love with how the cupcakes are described. “It’s a raspberry-mint cupcake topped with a chocolate-hazelnut buttercream and garnished with a raspberry-shaped marzipan and mint leaves.” It reminds me why I love to read about food in the first place!

I’m not sure if you’re inspired just yet, but I am! Food can bring out a fantastic detail in worldbuilding, as feasts have a lot of allegorical and visual impact. The very first descriptions I remember were from The Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeTurkish Delight–and the tea party/cakes from Alice in Wonderland. Why are these foods so memorable? What about their description entices us?

I find that writing about food is a great exercise in highlighting how detail can make something more enticing to the reader. Is it a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting? Or is it a homemade chocolate cupcake made with organic eggs, milk off the farm, and cocoa beans from Brazil, topped with milk chocolate ganache? Which one would you be more likely to eat? To practice writing about food, I find that picking a specific type of food–in this case, cupcakes–and then finding a picture to describe it is a fantastic method to facilitate visualization.

Here’s a picture of a cupcake featured on Cupcake Wars.

Double Shot Mocha Lattee Cupcake

How would you describe this cupcake? What ingredients do you think are in this chocolate confection? After you’re done, compare how you’ve imaged this cupcake with the original recipe.

(1) Beware the auto-play. Sigh.
(2) See also: because I was cleaning while baking, and couldn’t multi-task without sprouting extra arms. Or, alternatively,
(3) Fondant is “teh evil”, and I have yet to unlock its mysteries.

    Mood: Let bachelorette weekend begin!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Let there be coffee.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Not enough.
    In My Ears: Nameless dubstep beats.
    Game Last Played: Ugh. This jewel-addicting monstrosity.
    Book Last Read: The Silmarillion by Tolkien
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Ghost in the Shell
    Latest Artistic Project: Thinking about it.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update and My Departure from the Conan RPG.

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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