When writing a story, a small detail that authors might not pay much attention to is food. But we all need food, and so do your characters! The incorporation of meals and snacks into a story is a great tool to use to craft scenes and supply some really nuanced characterization.
Cooking Up Conversations
Need your characters to have an important discussion? Try doing it over a meal! Having your characters come together and sit down over food gives them the perfect opportunity to debrief. For example, if the couple in your story is having relationship issues, show them going out to dinner to try and resolve it. How do they interact in the public eye? Maybe you have characters that want to reconnect. Try having one character cook for the other and see how they interact with this act of service. The incorporation of food into the plot also doesn’t need to occur in a solely realistic genre, it can spread into other more fantastical realms as well. Exposition and lore can be discussed in the presence of new cuisines, which could assist in the general worldbuilding of your story.
Baking Some Behaviors
The way in which characters interact with their food can show a lot about who they are. Are they a sloppy eater? Overly neat? How close or how far do the characters sit from each other when dining? All of these things hint at a deeper underlying characteristic that they have. By creating scenes where characters interact with food, we can see behaviors that we may not see in other environments. These behaviors and interactions with food can also assist in the movement of time in your scenes and add to the overarching emotion and tone. If you have your characters rushing through a meal, the reader will feel the fast-paced and tense mood. On the other hand, by having a laid-back outing where characters are sitting and enjoying themselves, you can slow down time and examine your characters closer to see how they behave when they can relax.
Recipe For Reactions
Use it as a tool! Food can be a great way to unveil secrets and give a stage for grand reactions. Want to write a scene with an argument? Use the meal as a prop! Your characters can show their anger or disappointment through the environment around them. Channel the emotions into how they interact with the utensils, the food, the drinks, and the table. If your story entails a character traveling to an unknown setting, assist the readers in learning about the culture and world by showing how the character reacts to the food. Scenes where food is involved can allow you to also sneak in other events. If a character is pregnant, you might reveal this by them getting sick around food they once loved. If a character is ill, show them not eating at all. How do the surrounding characters react to this? Many important plot points can be revealed in a new and interesting way when you present them through the lens of eating and interacting with food.
Even if you don’t end up using a scene with food involved in the final version of your story, it is still a great exercise to write a scene like this to strengthen your authorial understanding of how your character maneuvers the world!