By Patti Jo Moore
At the beginning of each new year, many of us set goals that we hope to achieve during the upcoming year. One of the most common goals relates to health—losing weight. I’ve heard many writers lament that sitting at their keyboards for long stretches of time hasn’t helped their weight or health in general. If you’re a writer who enjoys snacking as you write (yes, M&Ms do boost my creativity, in addition to countless cups of coffee!), then maintaining a healthy weight might be a real challenge.
I recently thought about my goals for 2021, including my writing goals as an author. I was struck with the idea that maybe my fictional characters could use some goals, too. Okay, actually the goals would be for me to use as I write their stories, but hopefully implementing these would strengthen my stories and offer a variety of activities for my characters.
Many authors say that they include a bit of themselves in their characters’ personalities, including some of their habits, preferences, and hobbies. Some of my closest friends have laughingly told me that as they’ve read my books, they have noticed some of my habits in various characters. Since many of my own activities revolve around food—whether it’s a family dinner or a fun lunch with a dear friend—I have a tendency to include many food-related scenes in my stories.
Moderation is important in many areas, including in our stories. A while back, I realized that some of my characters seemed to be eating often—in almost every scene. Sure, they engage in other activities too, such as work and hobbies. But those eating scenes for my characters naturally come easily for me—even if I’m not hungry when writing! Hmm…have my characters been overeating?
Since I am not a plotter (and I admire those of you who are), I don’t have a thorough outline of each scene, complete with a little fork emoji to indicate my food-related scenes. Maybe one day I will, but so far, I’m definitely a “seat-of-the-pants” writer. But I want to make sure my stories aren’t filled with one eating scene after another, so I need to use another system. I’ve often heard it said that it’s important to “find what works for you.” Being a former kindergarten teacher and a non-plotter, I like things simple. I keep a special notepad beside my computer, and each time an eating scene happens in my WIP, I make a quick note. Simple—yes. But it works for me.
Even though I don’t plot, I absolutely must know my main characters well before beginning their story. On my character information sheet, I make a note of favorite foods and hobbies, in addition to various other background information on my hero and heroine. This provides activities (besides eating) for my characters. Again, moderation is key. Just because my hero might love basketball, I don’t need to have him dribbling a basketball in most of his scenes. As we forge ahead in this (hopefully better) new year, may our bodies and our writing grow stronger. But most of all, may we remember Who we’re writing for!
“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3
Author Patti Jo Moore is a lifelong Georgia girl who loves Jesus, her family, cats, and coffee. She writes Sweet, Southern Stories and is published with Forget-Me-Not Romances (Winged Publications). When she’s not spoiling her precious grandbabies or writing, she’s feeding cats—her own 6 and any strays who visit her. You can find her on Facebook at Author Patti Jo Moore, or visit her personal blog at http://catmomscorner.blogspot.com.