Monday, February 27, 2017

Character Development and Food...YUM!

Dear Kim,

On a fact finding mission I went digging through our old posts. See, I'm writing about food in my new novel and it got me thinking about how much food connects us. You and I must seriously want to be connected at Ink Sisters Write because over 50% of our posts mention food in one way or another. That's a pretty high statistic considering our mission is to "talk about books, writing, the writing-craft, and spreading the writer-love, one letter at a time." Such a delicious mission!

CHEERS!

I wrote about character development over at The Highlights Foundation earlier today. The focus there was about how music influences character. Examples of music as a device abound in young adult literature but I couldn't find the same number of examples about food. Sure, there are about twenty YA novels about cupcakes, but what about stepping out of the bakery and into every day life? Not as many. Is it because food isn't as universal as music? I don't think so. Or because we need music more than we do food? Some may say so. Or is it deeper, are we fearful of what food might tell our readers about our own relationships with food? The healthy or unhealthy obsessions we have with it?

I was at a writers workshop a few years back where the speaker handed out a list of rules to remember when writing for children and teens. One of the items on the list was: "Don't tell us about showering, sleeping, or eating." I see his point, somewhat, but would argue what he actually meant was don't tell us about those things unless they make your character more interesting (or reveal more about who your character is at his/her heart).

It makes me think of the levels of questions you used during one of our Kid Lit Ink workshops last year at Author Fest. What did you call them? *Red Carpet level, *New York Times level, and *Fireside Chat?

I wonder where food would fall on your leveling system? Maybe:

- A "red carpet" level food question: What is your favorite food?
-"NYT" level food questions: Do you snack throughout the day? Ever skip a meal?
-"Fireside chat" level food questions: What are your food fears? What is your relationship like with sugar? Chocolate? Gin?



No seriously-- Tell me about your relationship with gin.
In my work-in-progress, Allie, my main character, is a major foodie. She doesn't talk much about tasting food (that might bring her too much joy) but she does go to great lengths to share recipes and cooking tips. She works closely in her food truck kitchen with Mrs. V, a wonderful character modeled after my Mrs. P who taught me so much about food and life.


Allie has a thing for eggs. I love her obsession with eggs because Allie needs to break out of her shell and start again. I also love that there is something so simplistic in cooking an egg, almost like in its simplicity we make it so DIFFICULT to prepare-- which is essentially the approach that Allie takes in life.

In the end of the book, she makes this perfect poached egg for her mom and her mom just lets it sit on the plate. I keep imagining that plate, with all of the potential stored inside that creamy yoke, and that her mom misses the chance to taste it. Her mom misses the chance to know Allie too.

What about you? Any food obsessions in your work-in-progress? And examples, tell me all the YA examples that I am missing that talk about food, especially in a non-body shaming way. Please share. After all, we have some statistics to keep up with here at Ink Sisters.

I'm off to poach an egg.
Let's just call it research.

Dig in,
Alison

*Clue number two about our A to Z Challenge theme. (Clue number one here.)