Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Food for Writing Thoughts

Sometimes it is hard for writers to put things in perspective.
Sometimes we writers argue about writer things.
And sometimes writers get hungry.

The other day I was in a debate of sorts, and another writer gave me the "you shouldn't rate books on technical things. Technical things don't matter if the story is good," line. She thought one should never let technical stuff get in the way of enjoying a story.

Hungry me decided to go all Gordon Ramsay on this ...


Yes, technical stuff does matter.

 I have technical knowledge that plaid doesn't necessary go well with floral print that makes it impossible for me to enjoy certain interior decorating.
I have technical knowledge that info dumping is boring and makes the story hard to read.
I have technical knowledge that under or over cooking meat makes it difficult to eat.
I have technical knowledge that there is a specific way to put together sentences that makes them legible.
Yes, sometimes technical things can get in the way of the enjoying something ... and that's not the fault of the person bogged down in "technical stuff." It's the fact that the work doesn't overcome technical problems.
I'm not going to enjoy an under edited book any more than I will find a burnt cake delicious.
Saying that readers should be able to enjoy a book beyond its faults is like dumping a bunch of salt on ice cream and saying, "Well, you're just being technical in complaining that shouldn't be on there."

And technical stuff isn't just blindly following rules. There are all sorts of exceptions to rules where creative artistry takes over or an unlikely combinations works. It's kind of a culinary rule not to combine cheese and sea food, but lobster mac and cheese makes it onto a lot of menus.

There are other ways food relates to fiction:

And sometimes it will just be a taste issue. My mom hates the taste of onions. It doesn't matter how well-executed a dish is if it has onions in it. Other people I know love to slather onions in everything (I'm actually rather fond of them in certain dishes.). Some people can't stand cilantro because to them it literally tastes of soap. No amount of "learning to like it" is going to convince them otherwise. You can't write to please everyone, and some readers you'll just have to part ways with because you continue to add onion and cilantro (or first person present tense ... or cliffhangers ... or love triangles, or whatever else that particular reader just doesn't like) into your work because it works for your readers.

And there are different types of fiction. There's healthy meal fiction that teaches a lesson or bolsters the spirits. There's cheat meal fiction that's as fluffy as cotton candy. Both have a place to give life spice.

Oh, and sometimes the reasons we like fiction aren't because the fiction is technically good. It could be because it appeals to us. Because it triggers nostalgia ... a lot of "home cooking" I grew up with was very much packaged and processed. Arguably not good food, but my mom made it, so I understand it and have a fondness for it.

And there are fads in fiction just like there are fads in food ... like when we wrapped bacon in everything and read YA dystopian for like most of a decade (at least it felt that long) and then traded that in for cupcakes ... or food in jars ... or vampire books ... or fairy tale retellings ...

But some foods (and stories) stay timeless through fads.

So do you like food based writing metaphors? Or are they in bad taste ;)?

2 comments: