thanksgivingturkey     by Judith Ross Enderle

No, this isn’t a warning about eating too much of those Thanksgiving fixings. Nor is it a cautionary tale about overindulgence during the December holidays. Everyone knows the repercussions from eating too (burp) much.

This is about the repercussions from feeding your characters too much. Yup, it’s possible. Too much TLC at the table can create havoc and ruin a good plot.

How? Stop to eat and you can kill the tension in your story. And it happens more than you realize, especially in early drafts. It’s fun to write those scenes when family comes together at the table to share food and news. How about the sensory description you can create, when your plot drifts toward an opportunity to gather information at a roadside inn over victuals served before a warm fire? Or maybe your main character chooses to spread a blanket beneath a tree at the park and dive into that picnic basket lush with all manner of wonderful nibbles. Food scenes are sooooo tempting, so yummy.

Avoid temptation! For, while all the yummy noshing is going on, your story conflict has stopped. Sure you can introduce a food fight, but how long can that last. And what about that grand build up to this point, the villain hot on your main character’s trail, the jeopardy lurking around the next corner? All forgotten over a hearty meal and mundane conversation, with the major action now the lifting of a fork or hand from plate to mouth.

Those of us who are mothers are the worst offenders. Don’t let your main character get hurt! Plus it’s tradition to comfort with food. We want to nurture our characters, too.

But in a story that needs to keep the pages turning as conflict builds and the main character heads toward facing his/her nemesis, skip the meals. Let your characters go hungry. They can eat after the story is over. Because, if they stop to eat, there may be no story.

Now take a writing break, enjoy your holiday meals with friends and family. Then, when celebrating is over, get back to writing. And remember, DON’T FEED YOUR CHARACTERS!

From all the Mavens, we wish you much merry, huge happy, and many joyous holidays, followed by superb inspiration and well-earned success in the coming year.

5 thoughts on “BEWARE THE FEAST

  1. Interesting advice – I never thought about this. Thank you! However, there is one glorious exception: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s description of Almanzo’s family table on special occasions, in “Farmer Boy”. Completely memorable. The food was the plot, the tension supplied by the interminable waiting for Almanzo to finally be allowed to eat (served last, as the youngest), then the final moment of experiencing the taste of eat dish and the joy of cramming his little frame with as much as he could fit into it. Ahhhh! Burp!

  2. So true. I found in one of my books, whenever the action lagged, I had a tendency to start stuffing my characters with food. : ) I had to go back during revisions and take out many of the food scenes–too much repetition.
    Cheryl Zach
    your partner in crime