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Using fast food to describe your creative writing, think about restaurants.

Updated on June 28, 2012

Food as a tool for writing, really?

Absolutely, although you can literally use food to write with if you wish, that's not actually the idea behind this hub, which you will either be deeply disappointed about if you were hoping to learn how to write with ketchup, or relieved to discover as it would be a very messy way of getting your creative juices flowing.

At first food seems a little bit of an odd subject for story inspiration and character development, but eating is a universal activity and can reveal a lot about an individual, it is also has associations with special occasions and annual holidays. Scent's sounds and colours can also be used to great effect when trying to portray aspects in writing.

Let's explore these ideas in a little more detail and see if they can help you with your creative writing projects.

You are what you eat.

When describing characters in a story whether it be in a short story or a novel, it's easy to revert to familiar terms such as; 'she was slim' or 'he is cuddly,' in an attempt to help your reader visualize and identify with who they are reading about.

This can be done more effectively and subtly by dropping hints or clues about their lifestyle throughout your story. If for instance Samuel runs for a mile every evening and largely survives on salads and only drinks water, it would give off the impression that he is probably rather lean. However if we were reading about Sarah and we were told she eats a takeaway, late at night most day's and gets out of breath when walking up the stairs, you would assume she would be a curvy individual.

This kind of story telling allows you more show and less tell, without losing any of the visual impact.

How do they eat?

People are all individuals, they have their own unique ways of doing things and eating is not an exception to this rule. To help give your characters a more believable, 3D quality to them and enable the reader get to know them better, by giving them an unusual or distinctive eating habit.

Maybe they can't have certain food touch others on their plate, maybe they eat the food on their plate in a certain order or have to eat at certain times. Maybe they eat incredibly slow or super fast and what does this tell you about what they are like as people. Maybe they eat fast because they are always busy, maybe they want to change something about their eating habits, does it infringe on their life.

What does your character not like the taste of and what is their favourite food? All these questions and ideas will help you and your reader identify with your hero and understand them more.

Where someone eats?

This can tell you a great deal about a persons social standing or situation. If someone eats out in fancy restaurants they probably have money to burn and if they eat out at a fast food joint they may well be less well off right? Most of the time you would assume so, however you can also turn assumptions like these on their heads.

For instance Mike could be a very wealthy businessman who would ordinarily eat at an expensive restaurant, but he falls for Jane, who works in a fast food restaurant and he starts eating there regularly instead because he wants to get to know her better.

Maybe your charicter only eats at home, why do they do that? Maybe they can't cook or are a budding chef, what could this add to a story?

Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.

Using all the senses to describe a scene will really enrich a readers experience, making it a more real experience. It can also be used as a great tool for flashbacks and invoking memories. A writing exercise worth trying is taking a piece of fruit or a meal and trying to describe it.

  • The lemon meringue looked like a giant egg yolk in a cloud.
  • The apple was sweet and soft.
  • The spaghetti had a texture like rubber.
  • The sound of them eating dry cornflakes was like heavy boots treading on gravel.
  • The scent of strong spices and caramelized onions reminded me of my nans kitchen.

Give it a try an see, I would love to know how you get on, please feel free to leave your comments below and good luck with your creative writing.


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    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 7 years ago from home

      Your title made me think of- "The attack of the killer tomatoes" or "101 uses for corn and corn cobbs- but i now see your right- food can help set a mood-

      "He slurped dark red soup small tendrils of the red viscous liquid dripped from the corners of his mouth his teeth lightly stained red- but the smell was horrible like boiled raw meat little did i know that smell was actually was boiled human blood!!!"

      yea ... your right...Good hub


    • noorin profile image

      noorin 7 years ago from Canada

      wrenfrost56 great ideas. Im addicted to ice-cream, eat a cone 4 breakfast , lunch , and diner ... i just wonder wot does that say abot me , hehe =) Rated it up and will be following ya =) You are right !!! Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell add a lot to any written piece be it a poem, novel, article or even a quote.

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you katie, very glad you enjoyed this hub and I very much enjoy reading your creative writing. :)

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you Peggy w, glad you enjoyed my example. :)

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you winsome, I love ground hog day and I think Bill Murry is a great actor. :)

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you for your comment MPG Narratives, glad you enjoyed it. :)

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you andromida, very much enjoying your work also. :)

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you Polly C, I agree with you great creative writing is more about show then tell. :)

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      wrenfrost, what a delightful read, and so insighful. I'm going to carry this around in my mind thinking about it and allowing it to alter my writing process as It no doubt does now... Great read indeed.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Great examples of using food in creative writing. Your second last sentence, that of eating dry cornflakes and reminding one of heavy boots treading on gravel was great. Could almost hear it!

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you for your comment drbj, love your examples. :)

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Very nice premise Wren--reminds me of Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day when he knows nothing will last to the next day and he has a whole table of every food imaginable. When Andy McDowell reacts, he crams a giant piece of angel food cake in his mouth with icing everywhere and says: "I don't even have to floss!" Fun ideas. =:)

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      What an unusual premise but very effective, Wrenfrost. You make it seem so easy to work on a character just by describing how and what they eat. Good creative hub about creative writing, thanks.

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 7 years ago from UK

      Hi Wrenfrost, this is an excellent hub, with great examples of using food to bring across a scenario or portray a character in creative writing. I completely agree that great writing shows readers, rather than tells them. Good creative writing is more about painting a subtle picture with words, rather than long, descriptive text that spells it out for the reader. Writing should fuel the reader's own imagination, and this is what you have explained here, with wonderful expamples. Great work :)

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 7 years ago

      I love your insightful depiction of how food can reveal a lot about a person. Writing something on this hub topic was beyond my imagination.Thanks a lot wren :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Fascinating premise, wrenfrost. Here is my example:

      Onstage she apPEARed in the doorway and there was the sound of sustained APPLe-ause. Then a trapdoor opened and she PLUMmeted to the basement . . .

      Oops! I don't think that was what you meant by using food for writing. Despite this clumsy example, I really enjoyed what you wrote.