Yes, there’s been a lot of food lately. It has been a nice variety as well, pizza on game day, some great roadside diners and some incredible fine dining experiences.
All of this has me thinking about writing. Now this could be because many a time I should have been writing I was either on the way to or from some dining event or, if not, I was likely planning one. The result of my thinking was I realized writing is a lot like dining.
If you keep this in mind you may just find that what you serve up will be a bit more readily received.
For example, I was recently in a wonderful upscale restaurant in Charleston, SC – Mcrady’s. The restaurant’s chef is a James Beard award winner, the atmosphere is pristine, the service top notch and the food? Simply amazing. To start my recent meal there I had a charred mustard leaf with malt vinegar powder and homemade apple butter. Never in my life had I heard of such but it was wonderful. The catch? Wonderful as it was, it isn’t for everyone.
The week before I’d been attending a conference at Amelia Island, Florida and I wandered into a small café in downtown Fernandina Beach off a side street – Lulu’s at the Thompson House. I half expected I’d walked into an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Nothing at all fancy but the calamari rings in the sweet thai chili sauce was some of the best I have ever out in my mouth; however, if I was looking for charred mustard leaf I would have been disappointed.
These were two completely different dining experiences yet both were homeruns. However if someone had been expecting the fine dining of Mcrady’s, I dare say Lulu’s might not have been anything short of a miserable failure. The same is true in reverse. If someone was looking for low key Mcrady’s might not have done it.
Writing is just the same.
So, is your writing going to be fine dining or is it going to be rustic comfort food? There’s nothing wrong with either but knowing what it is going to be in advance will only help in the long run.
Knowing your content and style will help in defining the audience as well as the agent or the publisher, or for the ever growing group of independent self-publishers, knowing the answer to this question will be a critical first step in the marketing of your book.
So approach it like you would prepare a meal – generally speaking.
1 – Organize your ingredients. Prepare your manuscript in advance as you would the components of a meal. This will let you know if you are going for white table cloth or the popular dive.
2 – Don’t try to pass off meatloaf as filet mignon. Meatloaf is great but not if you are expecting Kobe beef. Be true to what you have written. Your book may be an edge of your seat page-turner, but that doesn’t mean it is literary fiction.
3 – Make sure it’s a complete meal. Regardless of the style of your writing make sure that you are providing a complete meal. Don’t usher your reader through the book and not offer a dessert course. Make sure they walk away satisfied.
If you do all of these and give the reader a good experience you’ll build up what restaurants love – a word of mouth following.
So it doesn’t matter if your place is fine dining or a popular dive and it doesn’t matter if your writing is the most literary of literary or anything else. If it is good it will stand alone and keep the reader coming back for more and telling people along the way.