Notes from the Novel Nights Cocktail Cafe on the subject of food and character

At our virtual cafes we get together to chat about topics of interest to other writers. At our last cocktail session we discussed characters.

Our discussions

These are some of the things we discussed in our Novel Nights cafe – where writers talk with writers.

Don’t be obvious with your characters. Don’t make their likes and dislikes vanilla. Think whisky sour not Prosecco

If your character is drunk, it loosens their tongue which could be a useful way to reveal plot

A character’s choice of food and drink is a useful pointer to their social status

The drinks people choose help the writer create a world – eg dewdrop cocktails in fairyland.

The way people eat and drink can reveal so much: the woman who cannot eat with her family, not eating as a way of being in control 

Your characters need to be real to you before they can be real to the reader. you need to know them completely but you don’t need to share every last detail with the reader.

Character questionnaires are laborious, but work for some writers!  

To create character, start with name/profession then go straight to the emotional events that have shaped their lives.

To create character, consider writing their biography, their childhood years, their education, their relationships, work, marriages, all the way up to where the novel begins

Let your characters go off on a tangent, see where they take you.

Food and drink can be a real signifier of class – and the topic could make an ideal chapter.

Investigate what your character might drink

Food and drink can nurture people. What would it say if your character had a pot noodle on Christmas Day?

If characters don’t eat, particularly girls, either b their silence or by not eating it can represent a type of control.

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