Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Are Your Characters Eating?

NaNoWriMo Day 6 Tips from Harry Potter

As it's day 6 of NaNo, and many of you have been hard at work at your keyboards, I'm imagining that you might be getting a bit hungry right about now.  How would you like a handful of cockroach clusters?  Don't find that appealing?  Then maybe a bagful of blood-flavored lollipops from Honeyduke's?

Or, for those who prefer something homemade, there's always Hagrid's treacle fudge -- I hear it will really stick with you.  If not, then maybe some of Mrs. Weasley's chicken and ham pie will hit the spot.

JK Rowling flavored her world with a mixture of exotic magical specialties and well-beloved British dishes.  And her choice of food items in her story is quite deliberate and thoughtful.  In an early interview with The Scotsman in 2002, she states that perhaps the book which influenced her writing of Harry Potter the most was Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse.  She says:

"The author always included details of what her characters were eating and I remember liking that. You may have noticed that I always list the food being eaten at Hogwarts."

Indeed, JKR uses her food not only to flavor her world, but to also show characters' personalities, such as Hagrid's rock-hard rock cakes, which he loves.  She even uses food to hide clues, such as Dumbledore's chocolate frog card.  Readers have had so much fun with Jo's creations, that fansites include fan-created duplicates, and there are even published cookbooks with recipes from her world.

Weaving specific food mentions into our stories may not suit every genre or every story.  Some books may be too fast paced for anyone to stop and take a bite of food -- but then, surely, that lack would play a role in the story itself.  However, most of us will have our characters eating at some point.

How much thought have you put into these bites?  Have you used these opportunities for further world building and character development?  Does your menu selection help to define your characters or maybe even hint at a clue for a mystery to come?

Putting some thought into the food our characters eat is a great opportunity to have a little fun with our world and our people.  Don't let this opportunity go to waste.

How have you used food in your world?  I'd love to hear of any unique food you've created for your story.

Sorry I missed posting yesterday.  My family had a yard sale, and after it was all over and done, I was too wiped out to get online.

JK Rowling quote source.