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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
If you’re a writer needing stimulation, pick up a copy of Once Upon a Pancake: Stories We Write Together by Rick Benger and feel those creative juices starting to flow. Oh wait! That subtitle says “Stories We Write Together.” Well, if you teach creative writing classes, from elementary school to high school, or if you run creative writing workshops, you’re going to absolutely love Once Upon a Pancake. This innovative and exciting approach to writing for individuals or groups was a kick-starter project. The desired goal was less than 5,000 but to date, the amount raised is double that; proof that contributors see Once Upon a Pancake as relevant and useful to their own needs. Not only does Once Upon a Pancake offer individuals or groups a chance to explore just how creative they can be, but they will have fun along the way. What a winning combination.
This clever book, complete with colorful illustrations and/or photos, provides prompts, offering chances to take off in any direction…humor, sci-fi, horror, romance…you name it. For instance, how about this opening for a short story or novel: “He was a caramel Adonis. Arms and shoulders so meaty they’d bring your grandma’s ovaries out of retirement.” What a visual! And what an intro to a humorous piece. I can’t wait to try that one out. One can explore that opening alone, but just imagine this prompt being passed from person to person in a 10-person workshop where each person adds the next sentence. How will that story end up?
Then, there’s this one for dystopia fans: "In consulting room 4 at the InnovoNato Clinic in Seattle, Dr. Vacek is helping the Robinsons design their baby. The easy decisions have already been made—a boy, as tall as possible, as intelligent as possible…” But what else or more? Participants in that workshop can go for broke with a prompt like that! For poetry fans, Rick Benger offers opening lines, along with what rhyme schemes apply, to limericks, haiku and sonnets. For social media fans…teens could have fun here…he supplies a series of dialogue balloons as would appear in text messages, with only one balloon filled in: “Mom, this isn’t Google!”
The other scenario for using Once Upon a Pancake could simply be a family or close friends get-together on a Saturday night: together they could write a whole new book of stories to be continued on future evenings…a refreshing change from charades or card playing. Just imagine where a prompt like this could go and where it might end up: “Kids really are like sponges, and after spending the weekend with his father, my little sponge is running around preschool grabbing his crotch and calling his penis his love gun.” Need I say more? The only thing left to say is, “Buy it; you’ll like it!”