Essence of Narrative: Food

Every writer has personal preferences they will write into their stories; be it a location, a song, a favorite author, or a food item.  Looking at food, characters in a novel are people and they have to eat.  I find that when I can match a fictional character to my own tastes (pun intended) I can better relate to the character and thus have an easier time developing both the character and the story.  And, as with life, what your character eats, or dislikes, adds personalization to the ‘picture’ you are painting of that character; especially for minor characters.

For me, there is only one brand of potato chip my people, who are worthy enough, can eat, and the brand is Route 11 Potato Chips, the best in the world.

Here is an example of how I used food to ‘humanize’ a character:

Simplicity Lane, Chapter 14:

While the group was making the copies, Millie was back at the University eating Route 11 potato chips in relative silence; crunching each chip as if it were her last.  The crunching of the chips and her breathing punctuated the solitude of her dorm room.  She had become a Route 11 fan at first bite.  They were not just her favorite, but her anchor to family and home.  The University was nothing more than a stop; not home.  The room, just a place to retreat to when she needed to sleep, wash, change clothes.  Millie did not consider it any more than a room.  Nothing more.  But the Route 11’s were more than great chips, they were a taste of home.  Then, a ‘home’ for Millie had been a succession of places as her father moved in assignments.  Thus, the consistency of chips was a measure of consistent pleasure in her life.  Millie equated ‘consistency’ to ‘home.’  She made an extra loud chomp, sighed, and turned back to her laptop.

(Simplicity Lane, is a work of fiction, copyright Steven S. Walsky, 2007 all rights reserved.)

This is the 20th anniversary year for Route 11s; let the world celebrate!

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10 thoughts on “Essence of Narrative: Food

  1. Never heard of them. They must be regional; lucky you! The Mama Zuma’s Revenge look good – ooh, and dill pickle. 🙂 Do you prefer the lightly salted you have shown? My characters are always eating Reuben sandwiches.

    • I like the Lightly Salted. Side note, I was going to use two examples, and the beautiful woman of Dave’s dreams, in a piece of flash fiction, was eating the dill pickle flavored ones.

  2. Thickly sliced white bread with butter on it – that’s my taste of home. Looking back at when I first moved out of my mother’s house, maybe I can retroactively blame my “Freshman 15” on homesickness?

  3. Well, now you’ve done it–I’m craving chips!! We don’t have Route 11 brand around here, that I’ve noticed–maybe that’s a good thing, or I’d be hiking up to the store.

    • To rescue 🙂 you from your chip dilemma, and in response to email requests posed by other readers, this morning I am posting the second example of my using food.

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