Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Devilish Details . . . and Eggs

The devil is in the details—or so the saying goes. Likely, most writers who’ve spent much time editing would agree. After spending months or even years crafting a plot, characters, and all the bigger picture issues, it’s the little things that make the difference.

Do the words just and very pop up everywhere? Are adverbs sprinkled too liberally or emotions too sparsely? Is your main character even facing the right direction to be blinded by the sun in the big fight scene? Worst of all, is there an easy solution on page 12 that most readers would notice though none of the characters think about it until page 200?

Even something as simple as names can make a book unravel. If the names don’t sound authentic to the culture or time period, if they’re all hopelessly unpronounceable, a story can lose its bite. Never mind the mental chaos that ensues from names that are too similar. Just try setting loose a Jeremy, a Jerry, and a Jimmy in the same book, and see how many people still follow who’s doing what. The devil is in the details, and, unfortunately, there are thousands of details that require attention before releasing a book into the world.

The details cannot be ignored, but neither can they be elevated above what matters most: the story. In the end, there’s always going to be untouched rough spots and perfect words that were never found. That’s okay. At a certain point, you’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope that the devils still hiding in your manuscript are simultaneously tiny yet obvious enough for your critique partners, agent, and editor to squash them like the pests they are.

To get you going, here’s a recipe without too many details. Even better, the details that remain can be easily changed to fit your mood and the tastes of your guests.

Deviled Eggs

1 dozen large eggs
¼ c. fresh onion, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
½ c. mayo (I used Hellmann’s light mayo.)
2½ tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. Tabasco
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. onion salt
a pinch of cumin
chili powder (for sprinkling)
Hardboil one dozen large eggs. (Click here for one set of boiling directions--there are many variants.) While eggs are boiling, sauté minced onion in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.

After eggs have cooled, carefully slice them in half lengthwise. Place whites on serving tray and put yolks in a medium bowl. Mash yolks with a fork. Mix in onions, mayo, mustard, and Tabasco. Add pepper, onion salt, and cumin. Stir well. Taste yolk mixture, and adjust according to your preferences.

Spoon all yolk mixture into halved egg whites. Sprinkle eggs with chili powder and serve when desired.


  1. This looks fantastic. When I was on vacation this summer I tried something I'd never seen on a menu before, a deviled egg sandwich. I had mine on toast and it was awesome. Just like egg salad only made with deviled eggs... that is if you ever have any leftovers!

    1. Funny you should mention that. I actually had a deviled egg sandwich for lunch today. :) Of course, in my strangeness, I added Grey Poupon, provolone, and pepperoni.