Sunday, October 18

Paring down the Menu

Last night, my husband and I went to a terrific restaurant for the first time. What the heck - I'll give it a shout out - Victoria's Gastro Pub, should any of you be in the mood for a great meal in Baltimore soon. Anyway, everything on the menu looked great. It wasn't one of those huge, 20 page Cheesecake Factory menus, but there were still too many good options to decide. (I went with the charcuterie plate and roasted beet salad.)

That's the same kind of feeling writers get when they start a book. Sure, you have a basic plot outlined, and probably even ideas for most of the chapters. It seems as straightforward as the pretty menu in the picture. But once you dive in, the possible decisions can be overwhelming. I was writing a conversation at a crowded party, and I kept asking myself when should I let the couple be interrupted. The interruption will be funny, but I kept coming up with snappy, sexy dialogue for just the hero and heroine. Do I keep going? How soon can I interrupt? Do I let the sister interrupt, the friend, or the grandmother? Which character goes off in a huff? I won't bore you with my other two hundred choices, but that sort of constant decision making whirs through a writer's brain all the time. Most of the time my writing instinct plows through the morass of choices with the sharpness of a machete. And then I'll get stuck on the stupidest little thing, like what color to make the hero's jacket for the party. Is it just me, or does this happen to everyone else? Because as superbly delicious as it was, I'm still wondering if I should've gone with the venison chili the other night.....


  1. Sounds like you'll have to go back another time or two so you can try all the best dishes!

    I've never got stuck picking out a color for a man's jacket (yet) but I have spent quite a bit more research time than expected researching what kind of watch he should be wearing!


    great post!


  2. Super post! That's the problem I have with writing a paramormal. Once you give a character powers, the possibilites are endless.

  3. I hadn't thought of writing as a menu of choices from the best of restaurants. With the literature I have had to teach these past few years, I felt like the authors were making their selections from Taco Bell - just the same old trite formulaic writing that bores everyone to tears. I'm on the hunt now from five-star literature!

    As I begin my foray into writing, I'm going to consciously write with five-star menues in mind. Thanks!


  4. Those little questions can be killers, Christi!!