Monday, February 22, 2010

A post in which I combine my two loves: writing and eating

Welcome back, gentle readers, to another episode of Deep Conversations, starring Yours Truly and the Partner in Crime.

The scene: Dueling computers in the writing room. The sound of furious typing punctuated by intermittent clicking and or cursing.

Me: (hysterical giggling)
P-i-C:  What are you laughing at?
Me: My WIP. (Note: I didn't actually say WIP, because that would have started an entirely different conversation that would have been inappropriate for this blog.)
P-i-C: Wait, why are you laughing? Isn't it a suspense?
Me: (shrug) Yeah.
P-i-C: Then what are you laughing at?
Me: I'm rereading the scene I just wrote and it's cracking me up.
P-i-C: You have humor in a suspense story? Weird.

Which got me thinking, as his asides usually do. Was I breaking the element of suspense to have a humorous conversation between friends? Was it taking away from the overall mood of the story to add layers? It was an interesting conundrum.

And then I thought about it in terms of food, which, let's be honest, I do a lot. It also helped that I had surrounded myself with hummus, Wheat Thins, soup, and cheese while writing. Which I also do a lot, but maybe not in that particular combination. Past the age of five or six years old, it's rare that you find anyone who eats just one thing for an entire meal. And I mean just one thing: just rice, just beans, just chicken, etc. Even those of you saying "wait, I only had a bowl of soup for lunch" aren't considering the fact that said soup probably had a variety of ingredients. Most people will eat a meal with several elements, including side dishes, spices on your meat, sauces, etc. Why? Because eating strictly one type of food is booooooooooring.

I feel the same way about books. If you keep up one emotional thread for an entire book I'm exhausted by the end of chapter one. Life doesn't happen in one vein and neither should a story. Bringing in elements of humor or romance help to break up the suspense and make it more digestible, and they also help to raise the suspense in spurts. Just as a warm, delicious slice of Naan bread helps to cut the spice in a curry dish, so does humor help to make the suspense manageable. It also helps to flesh out a character and make them more empathetic (sympathetic? Blast these synonyms). Humor is an excellent and easy way for readers to instantly identify with a character, and usually makes them more likable.

My lesson to myself: don't be afraid to add a dash of humor to my suspense stew.

Second lesson to myself: don't write blog posts right before lunch.

1 comment:

Lisa and Laura said...

TOTALLY agree--and you've made me feel much better about our writing. We have a little bit of everything. I've always wondered if that's a good thing or a bad thing.