Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Elements of Successful Fiction Series

Using Food in Writing
Food is a part of our lives but not something that many people associate with writing. In spite of that, it can add a wonderful dimension to a story as well as advancing the plot and revealing character.

Food is Necessary for Life
A full length novel should always contain references to food and eating. Most of us eat three meals a day and snack in between. Food sustains life and can also be a pleasurable pastime and a way to build friendships.

Food Reveals Culture
Curry, stir fry, pasta, moussaka. Do these foods bring a country or culture to mind? Most nations have a number of traditional dishes and these can add to the fabric of a story.

Food and Mood
Certain types of meals are associated with certain moods. An obvious one would be a romantic cordon bleu meal by candlelight. A barbecue is a relaxed setting and fast food could be a sign of stress and hurry.

Food and the Senses
Skilful descriptions of food can waken a reader’s senses and draw them into the scene. Think along the lines of aroma, taste, texture and appearance.
· Tender medallions of pork simmered in rich brown gravy
· Glossy slabs of chocolate
· Air saturated with curry, coriander and spice
· Yellow corn cobs, slathered with butter

Food and Character
A person’s characterization can be strengthened by food. Imagine a young girl training to be a chef or a grandmother who specializes in Hungarian cooking. A man who ices wedding cakes could make for an interesting character and a what about a vegetarian child who is repulsed by meat?

Food and Health
Food is closely linked to many medical conditions. An overweight character with a fatty diet could be a prime candidate for heart trouble. Diabetics need to avoid sugar and fat and an anorexic eats as little as possible. Some people turn to food for comfort and compulsive eating can lead to morbid obesity.

Recommended Reading
John Grisham uses food to great effect in several of his books. In The Last Juror, he focuses on rich southern cooking and describes it in mouth-watering detail. In Playing for Pizza, he brings Italian cooking to life and leaves the reader longing to visit Italy and taste its culinary delights.

Next week we’ll look at the use of clothing in fiction.


Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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