Food In Fiction

There’s a fine line between your characters literally starving to the reader and telling them a bit too much about their eating habits. Truthfully, adding scenes where your characters are “eating” may seem boring, but it can really add purpose to your story (and make it a bit more realistic). Really, it’s not like you have to add a scene where your characters do nothing but eat, and it’s not like you have to give the food itself much thought. People who hunt for details in your story will appreciate the small addition.

While the line I speak of is somewhat vague, it’s definitely there; it’s just about fine tuning it to your actual story. Are your characters going on a wild adventure through the wilderness? Well, chances are if it’s actually the wilderness, there’s not going to be an inn in the middle of nowhere for them to stop every day and eat, so they’ll need to be prepared, or even better, know how to gather food themselves.

If I recall correctly, series such as LotR and The Dark Tower make mentions of the character’s rations every here and there. I think these two series of the top of my head are good examples of what I’m trying to emphasize here. Both of them do a great job at mentioning that there is food, and how they got it (given from other people, purchasing, hunting, etc). On top of this, they actually make use of the time the characters spend eating, meaning while they eat- and let it be known that the characters are eating while having them talk about something important. I guess an example of this would be Roland & Co. eating what were they called… vegetarian burritos? while they palaver before bedtime on the road.

So in the end, I’m just saying don’t forget to add the aspect of food to your writing; I’m also saying to avoid doing it for no reason. It’s not something huge and definitely not something everyone will notice, but it’s still another one of those many things you should add onto your list of considerations.

Have you read any books that touch on food really well, or ones that you thought were unrealistic because there was no mention of it at all?

~Erynn

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