Thursday, November 24, 2011

D is for Dinner

Okay, so obviously I have turkey on the brain today. Thanksgiving is such a great holiday. It has all the best things in, friends, and food! I for one can't wait to dive into tender, juicy turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet, crisp corn, and spicy pumpkin pie.

But I digress...

Dinner, or any other meal, in a book can really add some depth to your characters and your story. Not to mention that it's a great way to include those five senses that are oh-so-important in writing. It's a great time to add meaningful conversation as your characters get to know one another. It's also such a normal thing to do it can make our characters come to life in a very real way.

The main thing to remember, though, is once dinner is in front of your characters, don't just leave it there. Make sure your characters are interacting with the food. Eating it is an obvious thing, (sipping the wine, biting into crispy, juicy fried chicken, savoring the last spoonful of ice cream from the bottom of the carton...) but there are other things that happen during a dinner scene that can be very telling.

Maybe the heroine is nervous, and no matter how good the food looks, she can't eat a bite.

Maybe she can't wait for dinner to be over (You know, so she and the hero can move on to, um (wink) dessert.) so she fiddles with her food instead of eating it.

Maybe the hero cooks dinner for the heroine. Or she cooks for him. What would they make for each other? Even preparing food can give your characters something to do; some action to counteract all of those dialogue tags.

And of course, food can be sensual...I wrote a scene once where chocolate figured prominently. One of my favorite lines from the whole book sums it up: Zach raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “Jess, I have you naked and covered in chocolate. Do you really think I care about the damn bedspread?”

Dinner can be elegant, casual, at home, in a restaurant, or on the go. Where you have your characters dine and what they eat can be an important part of the story. Have some fun with it. Just make sure it's part of the story, there for a purpose.

Until next time,

Happy Reading and Happy Thanksgiving!

Available now: A Christmas to Remember


  1. This is the best Thanksgiving post ever, Debra. I love to cook. I make my living raising, boxing, packaging, and selling food. I dive into spoonfuls of everything at buffets and potlucks.
    Eating is like showering. Everyone does it, so it's natural in a novel.

  2. Oooh, I've also had some fun with a shower scene in a book!

    I love buffets and potlucks...there's always so much yummy!

  3. Thank you! You just made me realize what's lacking in one of the scenes in my WIP--the characters are at dinner, and they're talking and doing all sorts of great things, but, um, I kind of forgot the whole food/eating part! Oops.

    Happy Thanksgiving and don't forget to eat!

  4. Jennifer...glad I could help out.

    I certainly won't forget to eat today!

  5. Great post! I rarely use meals in my stories, so this is an excellent reminder about how they can be used to show what the characters are feeling. Thanks, I'll definitely remember this in future.
    And Happy Thanksgiving - enjoy your turkey!

  6. Thanks, Paula.

    I seem to have my characters eating in every book I write...hmmmm...tells you how preoccupied I am with food I guess!