05 May 2011

How Writing is like Chopped: or, my excuse to talk about food

I do a lot of thinking in the car, since that's seemingly where I spend 99% of my time. 20 minutes to work, 45 minutes to my boyfriend's, 4 hours to my parents' (not so often anymore, unfortunately). So I have a lot of time to think. And since about 43% of my tweets concern food...well anyway.

My other passion is cooking. I don't do it much *at all* anymore, which will change when I'm un-poor, but I still love things that are food-related. Blogs, recipes, Food Network...and metaphors.

Especially in light of Allison Pang's post tonight concerning a retelling of a fairy tale she was thinking about retelling, I've come to realize that the more similar things are, the more different they can be.

Best example of this: Chopped. I. Love. Chopped. For anyone unfamiliar with the show, basically it pits 4 chefs against each other. There are three rounds--appetizer, main course, desert--and something that looks like a picnic basket contains the ingredients for those rounds. There are typically two or three normal ingredients, and then one or two crazy ones to test the chefs' creativity. Sometimes the outcomes astound, sometimes they fall flat. Oh, and there are judges.

How does this pertain to writing? We all have our baskets, only ours are filled with the building blocks of writing. Subjects, verbs, adjectives, characterization, plot structure and development, character arcs, etc etc etc. Like the chefs on Chopped, we all work with the same ingredients, but it's all about how we throw them together.

We may take a standard trope like boy meets unattainable girl (AKA, the chicken of writing). We may pour some jealous boyfriend paprika into the mix. Possibly add a few steamed veggie side-kicks. Add a dash of salty humor. See where I'm going with this? Ignore the fact that I'm hungry and go with me on it.

Like Chopped, it all depends on what we do with the ingredients we have. How creative we dare to be with it. The one with the most creative and flavorful dishes typically wins.

So don't be afraid to get a little crazy with your stories. Don't be afraid to throw some steampunk in with your fantasy, or to glaze your science fiction with a murder mystery (a la Beth Revis). Fear does not belong in writing. It belongs in querying.


Mandie Baxter said...

Very good reference. I haven't seen the show, but sounds about right. My parents live 2 hours away, I wish I saw them more often than I do too.

lexcade said...

I LOVE Chopped. You seriously have to check it out. The stuff they have to use is sometimes insane and usually something I've never heard of.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Fear does not belong in writing. It belongs in querying.

I shall pin this to my bulletin board. ;o)

lexcade said...

Hahaha Glad you enjoyed that :D