Tag Archives: writing tips

#SATurday: Expression

20 Dec

Quick Introduction: 

A short explanation before today’s post is read: This is my first #SATurday post. In these posts, I hope to share more of my personality and life with you all as well as engage in topics ranging from psychology to experiences to thoughts on life in general. Since writing and reading is such a large part of my life, it is most likely they will be brought up often – as you’re about to see below – but my intent is, honestly, your intent. Take these posts however you will and respond about any part. Unlike my previous posts, there isn’t necessarily going to be one message. Think of these posts as streams of consciousness. Hopefully, they’ll open the curtain to a more personal side of my life and your life. Most of all, let’s have fun with it! …

#SATurday: Expression

I don’t necessarily want this to be my first post. In fact, I’ve already begun the one I originally intended to share. It was more positive, less greedy, but also leaning on the creepy side. That’s all I’ll say about it for now. This one is much more punctual (and appropriate) but punctual suits it better since it is much easier to write. The words – in other words – are right on time.

Time is a tricky substance of writing. A novel that required one week to read demanded one year to write, and the story itself spanned over years. Words, in that sense, create time (or, at least, outline the foundation of time.) Without writing – whether it sketches out pictures or letters – we would have less history. Of course there is always oral history, but if you’ve ever played telephone, we all know how that turns out. “I like my cat” turns into “I’ll lick Michael.” And poor Michael gets picked on by the class for the rest of the week. If the class had been playing pass the note instead, the outcome would’ve been very different. Hopefully.

Writing has allowed us to solidify the story, the legend, the fable, perhaps even the greatest truths and lies we’ll never surely know. Maybe overanalyzing it is where the art of mystery is born – and overtime, the genre. So many genres. Uncountable amounts. And we’re still adding. For instance, I tried to explain what NA, a.k.a. “New Adult”, was to a friend of mine. Despite being a reader of that exact genre, she didn’t really understand – probably at a fault of my own. I can be rather wordy, a bit overzealous, a little too passionate, but mostly disorganized in my thought process. This disorganization is one of the reasons I write. Slowing down allows me to collect the chaotic conspiracies and theories and misspellings before I explain them in a relatable way. (Or not relatable. That happens, too.) Sometimes, it feels nice to be misunderstood.

Expression is a tricky thing. Being in a comic book helps.

Expression is a tricky thing. Being in a comic book helps.

When I think of my friend’s confusion, I find comfort in it. Her focus wasn’t on the genre. It was on the story. She could not have cared less if it were YA, NA, or Adult. She only loved the words – not the marketing plays my author life succumbed to along the way – and the reminder was a gentle one. Her confusion reminded me of my own story – a history where a love for stories existed before a love for genres before a love for writing – and her silence brought me back to that moment. It was in that instance that I realized we have more than a few ways to tell stories. It isn’t only found in pictures or words or textbooks. Stories are found all around us – threaded into our expressions, mashed by our stances, and even placed in a place not searched in often – in our silence. Maybe that’s why authors always litter stories with words like smiled, nodded, shrugged, and sighed. Emotions have paved the way to expression even before we could understand words at all.

~SAT on #SATurday

Finding Interesting Quotes

10 Nov

Announcements:

Bookstore Browser reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, stating, “The book sets up a great world, with interesting characters and storyline as a great start to the trilogy.” Check out the entire review by clicking here.

Finding Interesting Quotes

Quotes. We love them. I rarely log onto any social media site without seeing some quote being shared via photos or tweets or simple statuses. We find a lot of meaning in quotes because we can relate to quotes, and being able to explain how we feel or think by sharing a line or two is a wonderful way to communicate with friends, family, and other followers.

One of the most wonderful times of being an author is when a reader quotes you. The first time I saw this happen, I could hardly believe it. I probably rubbed my eyes, closed my computer, reopened my computer, and blinked before I accepted that somebody had shared a few words of mine with the world. Now – it happens pretty regularly, and every time, I am just as happy as the first time. Why am I mentioning this?

Recently, a fellow author asked me how they could increase their chances of being quoted by their readers. Now – while I wish I could say there is a simple formula – I don’t know if there is, but I do know how you can find quotes in your own work that you can use for marketing purposes. So…here are a few ways to start your treasure hunt!

Figure out your themes:

I think this is the easiest way to find potential quotes in your own work. For instance, The Timely Death Trilogy revolves around the light vs. dark theme, but it’s also a romance, so I can search for words associated with that. Examples would include dark, shadows, love, hate, etc. This is handy because it serves two purposes: sharing a quote and sharing a theme from the novel. For instance, if I shared the favorited Seconds Before Sunrise quote, “Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of love.” it appeals to readers who might want to read about love, destiny, and drama. It’s also short enough to fit on Twitter.

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Read book reviews:

Readers will often point out their favorite quotes in book reviews. But – by the holy reading gods – do not respond to the book review. I think we all know how horribly that can go. While I generally let readers add quotes to Goodreads, this is a place where I’ve added a few quotes myself after a book reviewer shared one but didn’t add it. Book reviews can be a gold mine for finding quotes, but the only downside is the fact that you won’t have the quotes until after the book releases. If you need quotes beforehand, this method will have to be used later.

Google Yourself:

I know. I know. I just said that. But – seriously – I found photos people took and edited just for the quotes inside my novels. I even found quote websites and new social media websites where I could connect with readers. In fact, this is one of the reasons I ended up on Pinterest. When I searched for my name, most of the photos I found with my quotes on them were on Pinterest.

Now that you have quotes to use, use them! Create photos, tweet them out, post them on Facebook. There are plenty of ways to pick out those one-liners to share, but make sure you’re having fun with it! Create images, tweet out to readers, “like” photos fans create. Post them on your website!

There are no limitations to sharing words, and who knows who will share yours next?

~SAT

Writing the Back Blurb

8 Nov

Announcements: 

The Messy Owl reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, stating, “A thrilling and entangling plot, full of suspense and action.” Read the entire review here or check out my latest novel by clicking here.

Writing the Back Blurb

As I near the release date of Death Before Daylight, I remember more topics that I can talk about due to the tasks I must complete beforehand. Writing the back blurb is one of these tasks. Oh, yes. The dreaded back blurb. Everyone knows about the summary of text on the back of the book that convinces readers, “Yes. You want this book.” The scariest part relies on the fact that the summary is exactly that – something that could make it or break it a reader.

The pressure.

So, I’m going to share how I write the back blurb by using Minutes Before Sunset as an example. First, I want to clarify that this is how I write one, and it may not be a method everyone should use. It also might come across as more complicated than it actually is, but that’s because I am breaking it down into five steps, even though – in reality – it feels like one when I’m writing the back blurb. I hope it helps those who are struggling with writing one!

1. Try to write a query letter

A query letter is even worse, right? But I like to start there because it forces me to summarize the novel in one or three sentences. Those sentences end up summarizing everything, but – more importantly – it forces me to get to the bottom of the message, the theme, and the genre. This allows me to focus on those things in the future. Set aside until step 3. (This is actually where I get my “Two destinies. One death.”)

2. Write a one-page synopsis

Oh, how painful this is. (Just kidding.) This is where I write whatever I want to. I explain the novel for as long as I like, and when I’m done, I slowly start to cut smaller parts out until I get it down to one page. Set aside until step 3.

3. Combine Step 1 and 2

This is where I combine everything. Look at the first two sentences you came up with and compare it to the synopsis. What matters the most? What catches your eye the most? What correlates and what doesn’t? Sure, it would be great to mention your favorite side character’s importance, but do they add to the theme more than the protagonist? That first step really helps me make the cuts I didn’t want to make in step 2. (This is where I get most of the information that will be found in the middle.)

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

4. Make it catchy

Once you get the information that you want, twist the sentences around. Think of the infamous Don LaFontaine’s “In a world” movie trailer voice. Or listen to epic music while you write it. Make it fit! Make it intense! Don’t hold back…until you step away for a day. I would warn against making it too epic – because that’s when many create a back blurb that is too abstract to understand – but keep some intensity while also creating some grounding for the reader to get. Step away for a day. Come back. Read it again. Make sure it sets up the reader’s expectations in the right place. For instance, you don’t want to mention love in the synopsis if love is barely in the book at all. That will only cause romance readers to pick it up, and they probably won’t be too happy with your novel if they expected something that ended up not being there. (This is where I add the quote. I add the quote at this point because it becomes my “dun dun dun” but it also helps me focus on the turning point of a plot – the main conflict, per se, and I like to set up the reader to know that for the trilogy.)

5. Edit. Get opinions. Edit again. But decide on it.

Just like a manuscript, get someone’s opinion about your blurb. Edit, and rewrite it, but don’t obsess forever about it. Eventually, you have to decide on something and turn it in. Talking to others might help you feel more confident about the back blurb. I would even go so far as suggesting getting an opinion from someone who had read the book and someone who knows nothing about the book. (This is also where I add the review quotes since I finalize the blurb.)

It’s over! You have your back blurb, and you’re ready to share it with the world. The only other thing I would mention is this: for series, I would suggest remaining consistent. Seconds Before Sunrise has the same parts that Minutes Before Sunset does – the slogan, the quote, the summary, and the review quote. Death Before Daylight will as well…which reminds me. If you want an ARC of Death Before Daylight for review, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I will share your review right here and on my other websites as well!

And best of luck with your back blurb writing,

~SAT

The Unconventional Working Habits of Brilliant Writers

14 Oct

Today is another fantastic post written by Ninja Essays. Shannon is taking a slight break, but I have a lot of announcements today that I hope you check out, including news about a radio interview, a reality T.V. show, and book bloggers.

On October 15, Whispers in the Dark radio will be hosting a LIVE interview from 8 – 9 p.m. (CDT). I hope you all listen in. We’ll be talking about Take Me Tomorrow and so much more. So click here to check out the radio’s page, and tune in tomorrow night.

I also have an array of wonderful people I want to thank today.

The first shout out goes to The Big Break Legacy, a reality T.V. show, for quoting Seconds Before Sunrise! Thank you for your support! The second goes out to Deborah Wong for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the One Lovely Blog Award. I nominated Tune-In-NanaAj, So She Says, Fraser Sherman’s Blog, Author Dana Ellington Myles, and thedailyopine. Last but definitely not least, I have three fantastic book bloggers who reviewed Take Me Tomorrow the past 48 hours. (Please click the blog names to visit their full reviews and websites):

Southern Bred, Southern Read brought out the giggling author in me when they wrote, ” I personally would love to run into Noah anywhere… whoosh ya boy sounds dirty hot! He makes my cheeks blush and my eyebrows wiggle. *pulls out paper fan and cools off in true southern fashion*” But don’t worry. They got into the dangerous part in their review, so check it out!

The Book Spa spoke about the “refreshing take on the Dystopian genre…It has an interesting plot, is well written and is action packed.” And so is their review!

The latest review was written by The Incorrigible Reader, and she wrote, “If you are looking for an exciting story (and maybe a little romance)Take Me Tomorrow is an exciting read that I would highly recommend it.” Find out why in her full review!

Thank you to all of these wonderful people!

Unusual_work_habits_of_great_writersThe Unconventional Working Habits of Brilliant Writers

Creative geniuses are never linked to the ordinary habits normal people have. Their minds, their lifestyle and approach to work are completely different from what we would expect. Some of the world’s greatest writers had working routines that fell within our understanding of “normal”, but others had an approach that deviates from the picture we imagine when reading their novels.

Did you know that Ernest Hemingway wrote his lengthy novels while standing up? Maybe we should all try that sometimes and see if our minds would come close to being as genius as his. How would you imagine George Bernard Shaw working on his novels, plays and short stories? Vladimir Nabokov, Francis Scott Fitzgerald and Vladimir Nabokov had unusual approach to their work as well.

The belief of a “tormented genius” is more than a deviation from normality; it’s a state that has been reflected in the work and lifestyle of creative masterminds from the beginning of time. Great intelligence and creativity cannot be tamed within the boundaries of “normal”.

The following infographic created by NinjaEssays reveals the working strategies of some of the most brilliant writers throughout history. This information surely puts their work into a new perspective. 

Why Most of my Characters are Male

8 Oct

Announcements:

Red Sands Reviewz read Seconds Before Sunrise and wrote, “You know how they say sequels aren’t as good as the first? This is not the case. It was fun to read from the start to finish.” And now you can read her review from start to finish by clicking here.

Krazy Reads reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, and you can read the entire review by clicking here, but this review inspired my blog post today, so I will be referring to it throughout my post! Even then, here’s a small quote, “Unlike most dystopian novels, this one felt the most real to me. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE all dystopian novels, but for me, this seemed the most likely to actually happen.” Check out Take Me Tomorrow by clicking here.

Thank you, Krazy Reads.

Why Most of my Characters are Male

I’m doing something today that I have sworn to myself I would never, EVER do. I am responding to a book review. (Oh, the taboo!) Don’t worry. I have Krazy Reads permission, and it’s more or less not a response. It’s a deeper explanation that was inspired by a single section she wrote about my latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow:

Most of the characters are male, and while some people may say that seems unbalanced, to me, it fits perfectly. In the novel, the boys are fighting for a cause, they break laws, set bombs, and carry out rescue missions, so having most of the characters male fits, and I like how there are only three major female roles. Even though Sophia doesn’t always understand, she’s strong, smart, and cunning, and often times, she and her best friend, Lily, are the reason the plans work at all.”

It’s true. I’m guilty. My latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow, has more male character than female characters, and before I explain why, I would like to clarify that I’m specifically talking about Take Me Tomorrow in this post. My other novels are not like this, and there will be minor spoilers throughout this piece. That being said, I am going to have to hold back on some explanations due to the fact that the sequel will deepen many of these explanations, and I don’t want to spoil major parts of the first novel. But I’m going to do my best to explain why I have more male characters than female characters, and I want to explain this because I have received dozens of emails asking me why Take Me Tomorrow is full of boys.

The main reason is, perhaps, the most important one: it was never a conscious decision. It just sort of happened, and it happened naturally. This is the same reason I ultimately never changed it, despite the fact that I had one beta reader in particular suggest it. Don’t get me wrong. I thought about it a lot. I did. I considered each and every character and their gender, but here’s what it ultimately came down to: it was never about their gender. It was about them, and here are the two main reasons, I believe, they were boys in the first place:

Their Past

Although some of the past is seen in Take Me Tomorrow, more is explained in the sequel – Take Me Yesterday (hence the title). But I am going to explain what I can. First of all, a lot of it has to do with how the society works. Even though boys and girls can see each other and go to school together, there are subtle hints the society subconsciously encourages them to be separate. For instance, the boys are more likely to be thrown in military for punishment, while the girls are generally thrown into the correctional houses – and the correctional houses that are blatantly separated by gender. The other subtle part was the dance. Sophia describes it as one of the only instances students from separate schools can meet. Socializing is definitely not encouraged, but let’s get down to physical relationships: Noah and Broden met as children, and although I cannot giveaway their full circumstances, they didn’t just become friends because their parents were friends or that they happened to be the same age. I don’t want to spoil the novel so I won’t explain Tony or the flashback of Liam too much, but those two boys were more or less a reflection of what could’ve happened to Noah if he were older. Pierson is explained in the sequel. (I’m sorry for how cryptic this is.) But I can talk about Miles. If no one noticed, the twins – Miles and Lily – don’t have a father, and again, more details will come in Take Me Yesterday, but I will say this: Miles was very attracted to Broden and Noah, the first two guys that gave him friendship. Lily, too (as explained in the book), but Miles pushed his sister away. I have an older brother. This happened to me. But that’s for my next section.

These are Pinterest photos that remind me of TMT characters

These are Pinterest photos that remind me of TMT characters

My Personal Life

After my mother died, I was practically raised by my older brother. (My dad, too, but he traveled a lot.) So I spent a lot of time with my brother and all of his friends, and – you guessed it – they were mostly guys, especially his best friends. We went hunting and off-roading and ate sandwiches by the lake when we fished. But – during some point – we didn’t hang out as much, and that just happens sometimes. I got friends of my own, but (you might have guessed again) most of my friends were guys. I was comfortable with guys. I was used to spending time with them, and there was no romance there. A girl can be, in fact, just friends with guys. So I think that leaked out with Sophia, but I think it happened because of Lily. That’s right. Because of Lily. Sophia is best friends with Lily, and Lily is the one who introduces Sophia to Miles and Broden. Sophia gets her guys friends by default, and if you read the story, you also might have noticed that Sophia is not a social butterfly like Lily is. Sophia would rather stay home with her dog and read. She was perfectly satisfied with Lily’s company, and Miles and Broden were just extra buddies she gained. And, yes, you will learn even more about all of their pasts, specifically with Broden, Lyn, and Sophia’s mother…oh, and Miles and Lily. Pretty much everyone. But now that we’re talking about the girls…

As an extra, I want to talk about the girls, and I want to start this section off by re-quoting what Krazy Reads said, “I like how they’re are only three major female roles. Even though Sophia doesn’t always understand, she’s strong, smart, and cunning, and often times, she and her best friend, Lily, are the reason the plans work at all.”

Sure, the guys appear to be running things, but sometimes, as an author, I struggle to understand whether certain aspects are forgotten just because gender gets focused on. For instance, Miles is so terrified in the beginning, that he runs away, and Sophia – a girl – takes his place. That’s just one instance where the girls come to the rescue, and yes, there are more rescues and reasons, but sometimes, I worry that literature has trained us readers to focus more on boys rather than girls, which is no one’s fault. I’ve been guilty of it, too. But just because there are more boys does not mean that boys are more important, and in Take Me Tomorrow, they definitely cannot survive without the girls in their lives.

In fact, even though there are more boys in the novel, the numbers should not take away from the importance of Lily, Sophia, Lyn, and later on, Rinley. I wish I could explain what these girls do throughout the novel, but those pesky spoilers prevent me. That being said, these girls – as well as more girls – are seen in the sequel. (And, yes, the boys will be there as well.) But Take Me Tomorrow isn’t about how many boys or how many girls are present. It’s about drug use, abuse, addiction, immigration, tragedy, love, and war. And everyone can go through that, no matter what their gender is.

But – just for kick’s sake – here’s a list of reasons I have more male characters than female characters:

I was true to story.

~SAT

The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

6 Oct

Announcements: 

Today’s HUGE thank you goes out to DJ FRESH, one of the most influential muso’s in the South African music industry, for quoting Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy yesterday afternoon. Moments like these are unforgettable, especially since I have some wonderful music to follow!

fresh4

tmtinst

Rebekka.B’s Instagram photo

Also, I would like to thank Rebekka.B for reviewing Take Me Tomorrow on her Instagram. Not only is her picture beautiful, her review is wonderfully written, and she compared my latest novel to the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons. Here’s why: “The strength and power that the characters have are so on point and well written. I could relate to every one of them in a different way. At the end of the book you can only state that they are true warriors that fight for hope, justice and love…It’s a powerful book with powerful people who live in a powerful world.” Check out her full review by clicking here or read a preview of my book by clicking here. Either way, be sure to follow her book reviews!

In other news, I found out that two of my poems will be published in a literary journal at the end of November, but that is all I can say for now! Be on the look out for more news later this month.

The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

Being an author is one-part writing, twenty-parts managing everything else. By “everything else”, I mean editing, social media, interviews, organizing covers, and so much more. Marketing is generally where most of my time goes, especially if you consider any type of social media marketing. That being said, a wise woman once told me that I have to remember that I am always an author first. This sounds much easier than it actually is. Getting caught up in marketing is a slippery slope I’m sure almost all authors have fallen on once or twice before. One way I avoid that (and remind myself that I NEED to make time for just my author life) is by setting deadlines for myself. Sure, my publisher suggests timeframes as well, but today, I’m focusing on personally setting deadlines for oneself and what kind of benefits and disadvantages it can have.

Pro: It keeps you motivated

Even though passion can be the basis of writing, there are still days where authors just don’t want to write. Maybe we’re tired from our day job. Maybe our favorite T.V. show has returned for another season. Maybe we just don’t want to. And maybe it is okay to take a break. Not writing for a day is perfectly fine, but not writing for day after day after day? You’ll find yourself in a writer’s slump faster than you realized. This can also turn into the horrors of writer’s block. Having a circled date that says, “Hit 20,000 words” can help motivate you to keep your off-days in check. You don’t even have to force yourself to write in something you don’t want to. But having a time set aside to write SOMETHING can help you get somewhere much faster than you realized.

Con: It can make that motivation feel more like pressure

To me, motivation should always be a positive thing. It shouldn’t stress someone out unless it’s “good” stress (which I am told is an actual thing). If this motivation starts pushing you down or making you write less or pressuring you to rush or causing you to fret about dates, word count, and publication dates, then, don’t do it. That being said, I’ve failed at meeting a goal, and it was perfectly okay. I simply understood my timing a little better, and I started pushing my goals back a few weeks. Understanding my writing time has actually helped me understand my calendar a lot. For instance, I can more accurately guess when I will finish content edits so I know when to start talking to my editors and cover artist. A perfect example of this hit me recently. Originally, Death Before Daylight was supposed to come out in late 2014, but it’s now reschedule for January of 2015. That being said, I estimated the novel would be 80,000 words after content edits, and I’ve already surpassed that, so it might be pushed back again. But I can’t dwell on it. I have to move forward and keep editing the content so I can get it in the hands of readers.

Pro: use kitty stickers on your calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: use kitty stickers on your kitty calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: Achieving small goals can give a burst in energy

For me, actually hitting the exact goal I planned (or hitting it beforehand) brings so much excitement to writing. Think of it like a video game or a puzzle. Moving onto the next level can be energizing, and that burst of energy can assist in trying to get to the next one and the next one after that. As many of you know, I keep progress bars on the right side of my website, but you don’t know that I keep all of my progress bars on my laptop. They are dated, and if I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, I like to scroll through them in order to see just how much I’ve gotten done in the past few months. I always feel much better after.

Con: Having unrealistic goals can be disheartening

Sometimes, I think writers can set unreasonable expectations for themselves, but that’s also because every writer is different. I’ve known an author who can write a book in one month – and a good one – but that doesn’t mean every author out there should try to accomplish that. Setting deadlines is not about finishing quickly. The goal relies in writing well rather than writing fast, and setting a deadline can be that reminder to give yourself the needed amount of time to write well. Don’t let it turn into a reminder that you’re not writing fast enough or that you’re not keeping up with everyone else. It’s not about them or their deadlines. It’s about you, and your passion, and your love for writing.

In Conclusion:

Deadlines are not for everyone. They work for me. They keep me organized and feeling accomplished in-between publications, but I have also been known to put too much pressure on myself, so I also need to know to be aware of when deadlines become deadly to my writing life. It doesn’t happen often, but I do keep checking in with myself, and if I need to take a break – by, God, I do. I step away, hit the road, and crank Elvis through my Mazda’s radio until the sun sets. At some point, I return, and at some point, I set another deadline, and at some point, I complete another deadline before I make another one. But the goal goes beyond deadlines. The goal disappears somewhere in those words strung together into sentences put together in paragraphs for pages upon pages.

The deadline, whether it is met or not, will still become a book, and in the end, that is what matters most.

What do you think? Do you set deadlines for yourself? What were the pros and cons for you? Comment, like, and share below!

~SAT

Writing Tips: Food in Fiction

10 Sep

Announcements:

Read Watch and Think read Take Me Tomorrow and asked, “Why do I have a feeling that the author hates the fragile nature of my brain?” She reviewed my latest novel by stating, “I have a feeling that there should be a sequel. (In case there in no sequel planned, the author can totally expect me to camp outside her house till she writes me one….either that or she decided to calls the cops or unleash her dog to get me off her property.” And you can read the entire review by clicking here or check out my latest novel by clicking here.

Into the Written Word also reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, recommending to it to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels with cliffhangers (and action!) Click here to read everything, including why they want a sequel, but this is where Shannon reminds everyone that a sequel is up to the readers sharing, reviewing, and spreading the word about Take Me Tomorrow.

Minutes Before Sunset was featured on Underrated Books by Confessions of a Book Geek! You can check the full list of books by clicking here, but here’s a quote from her explanation, “I really enjoyed this action-packed, paranormal story (with a difference) and I’m looking forward to reading the whole trilogy.” Thank you, Book Geek!

Writing Tips: Food in Fiction

55365451.jpgI love food. I love it so much that I often feel like Usagi in the 90’s Sailor Moon. Black cat and all. But this post isn’t about my obsession with my favorite manga. It is about food in fiction and how it can shape characters, settings, and more. (What?) Yes. Believe it or not, food can be that important.

So, grab a snack so we can start chatting! (Nom-nom-nom)

How can food shape characters?

Think about your favorite foods. (Spaghetti? Cherry turnovers?) Consider your favorite type of food. (Chinese? Mexican?) Now, think about why, and go beyond “I just like it.” Are there memories associated with these foods? My mom used to always cook lasagna, and my dad still talks about it over a decade later. I always have a coffee in the morning, but my favorite breakfast is bagels, and for about a year in my childhood, all I ate was bagels. (No exaggeration.) My brother loves Goldfish.

These little quirks can do a lot for a character. Not only can it show one character’s preferences, but it can also bring characters together. In Minutes Before Sunset, Crystal and Jessica have a “girl’s night” with peanut butter and chocolate. I put quotes around girl’s night because Robb is there, too. But food went beyond that in the trilogy when Eric obsesses over his stepmother’s lemon cakes. Even though he struggles to talk to her, her cooking gives him an excuse to approach a mutual moment of discussion. So – if you can’t find another way for two to come together – consider bringing your characters together over food. It happens in society all the time.

If you need another reason to consider food for a character, it can just be funny. For instance, I HATE spicy food. If there’s even a slight pinch of pepper on anything, I lose control of my face. It’s not cute. But it might be a good excuse for comedic relief.

All of this food has been seen in The Timely Death Trilogy

All of this food has been seen in The Timely Death Trilogy

How can food affect a setting?

Oh, in so many ways.

Think about how food changes from one table to another, from one day to another. Heavier foods might insinuate colder weather outside or fancier foods could mean they’re celebrating a holiday or a birthday. Certain food might show cultural differences from one character to another. But you can take even further.

If you’re super detail-oriented, it might be a good idea to Google how a character refers to a soft drink based on the setting. Is it soda, pop, or Coke? Names can shift over various areas and time. It might be something to consider, but that’s not all! (What? There’s more?) Yes. There always is.

If you’re writing science-fiction or fantasy, throw in a new food or consider renaming a food we eat today. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just have fun with it! You could even create traditions around food. (Like how the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving with a turkey.)

Food in fiction is fun, but it is also important.

Don’t be afraid to explore possibilities (or the kitchen) for your characters. After all, we want characters to be as realistic as possible, and real people need to eat if they are to maintain healthy and energetic lives. Who can be a superhero with an empty stomach? Speaking of which, I am starving now that I’ve written this. I’m off to eat my midnight snack, but I look forward to reading your thoughts about food in fiction. Comment below!

~SAT

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