Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Like Sandwiches As Much As The Next Guy....

...but enough already!

For some reason, I've been reading about a lot of sandwiches lately.

No, I'm not reading menus.

No, I'm not reading cookbooks.

I'm reading a lot of mysteries and romances that seem to be obsessed with inane details like what sort of sandwiches the characters are eating for lunch. Every single meal. In the entire book. No matter what else is going on in the story. (Bad guys trying to kill them, falling madly in love, etc). Doesn't matter....we're hearing about sandwiches.

Here are times it's OK to talk about sandwiches in a book....

1. The hero owns a sandwich shop.
2. The heroine owns a sandwich shop.
3. The hero/heroine is a caterer, chef, culinary master.
4. The details about the sandwich are critical to the story...for example, the hero feeds a sandwich with anchovy paste to the villain, who has a severe allergy to anchovies, thereby dying a horrible gruesome death, and the hero saves the day. Something like that.

I don't need to know every time the characters eat a meal.

Or what they are eating.

Does it tell us something important about the character or the story?

For example, let's say the heroine is a super-model, and she sits down with the hero for a meal. He expects her to order a small salad and water. Instead she orders a huge cheeseburger and fries and a beer. That might tell us something about her, and intrigue him.

Another example....the hero is a rancher, but he orders a vegetarian meal. The heroine is shocked. Does this give us some insight about his feelings toward his job/family?

Think about the details you are including in your book. Are they important/critical to the story? If it's a foodie book, then hell yeah, include details about the food. If it's a regular novel and their meals HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY....AT ALL!...PLEASE, I am begging you, leave out the sandwiches.

I especially see this a lot in mysteries. If the details are building a picture about the character--he's a burger and beer sort of guy, she's addicted to sweets, he drowns his sorrows in junk food, she's super anal and refuses to eat, etc etc--then it makes sense to include some of these details. But letting the reader know that the characters are getting sandwiches (or any kind of generic food) for breakfast, lunch and dinner is totally unimportant, slows down the narrative, and needs to be edited out of the book.

Please. I am freaking begging you.

And don't even get me started on potty breaks. (File under the heading Sh*t We Don't Need To Hear About In A Book).

ETA: I'm at Julia Barrett's blog today discussing a very important topic....The Never-Ending BJ. Stop by to say hi! (If you dare).

Jonesing for a smoked turkey sammie,