Friday, April 6th, 2012

Writing Prompt: Food for Thought

One of the big criticisms of fantasy fiction is ‘dining’ scenes. They often become the joke of the story, and it’s those scenes that are discussed as clichéd in reviews, no matter if they’re a key scene that the entire plot hinges on.

Three dwarves walk into a tavern…

See what I mean? Hard not to make a joke out of it.

But I’ll argue until I’m blue-faced that dining scenes are necessary to make the fiction realistic. And if you want to argue some more, I’ll state that these scenes are just as clichéd, if not more so, in other genres:

  • the engagement announcement made at dinner (in any genre)
  • the discussion of other worldly food (especially those slimy, living foods consumed by bug-like creatures) in science fiction novels
  • the ‘let’s have a polite chat over dinner’ (but you know someone’s going to get killed) in a western or gangster story
  • the cozy, steamy, dinner for two which escalates into a torrid love-fest of unusual positions and food in usual places

Your job with today’s prompts is to create a scene, a poem, a short story or vignette that is about food or dining, but isn’t clichéd.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about one of these things:
    • hunger
    • simple dishes
    • eating alone
    • forbidden fruit
    • temperamental chefs
    • eating alone
    • a family meal
    • a holiday dinner
    • family recipes
  • Someone yells from off in the distance, “Come and get it!” You hear the klaxon sound of the triangle, bell, or digital tone if you happen to be aboard ship.
  • These are the ingredients…
  • Use the five senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight) in your writing, but focus on one of them; for instance: the smell of fresh-brewed coffee; the site of lush, colorful fruit, the taste of something hot and spicy, salty or sweet; the sound of crunchy cereal, or fries sizzling in grease; the feel of salted nuts or buttery popcorn when you lift it out of the bowl…
  • “Sustain me with raisin cakes, Refresh me with apples, Because I am lovesick. ~ Song of Solomon
  • The refrigerator’s full, but there’s nothing to eat…
  • The cupboard is bare…
  • A pie eating, ice-cream eating, hot-dog eating, you-name-the-food-eating contest at the local fair
  • Write about the guy standing on the corner who “Will Work for Food.”

Good luck!

6 comments to Writing Prompt: Food for Thought

  • Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for this! Totally agree, the eating of food is often very helpful in grounding a story, even if – or sometimes, especially if – the characters don’t eat in a way that would be normal to us.

    A. R.

  • “Three dwarves walk into a bar…” ::snort with laughter:: LOL! That made me laugh. Yes, I see your point.

    This is a fabulous writing prompt – so many great set-ups here! Of course, when I see writing prompts like this and my brain starts pumping I want to go and shred my novel – suddenly I think, “oh no! It’s so flat – there’s so much more I could have done with it!” LOL!

    “The refrigerator is full but there is nothing to eat” is the story of my life, BTW!!! Now I’m having the strong urge to clean out the fridge!

  • Three dwarves walk into a bar. Hmm. Was it a mini-bar?

    No, wait. Three dwarves walk into a tavern. They want to order three flagons of ale, so they check their pouches of gold, and found they were each a little short.

    You’re right, Kelly. It IS hard not to make a joke out of it.

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