Characterization Exercise

Recently I saw a Q&A in Real Simple magazine where readers were invited to share their most controversial food opinion. There was the woman who doesn’t like potatoes and another who dislikes warm cookies. Another felt that lobster is overrated but another woman felt that the most overrated food is ice cream. Best food ever? One person insisted that it is Peeps (gag) and another spaghetti with parmesan and crushed potato chips.

Reading through the list I couldn’t help but think that this would make a fun characterization exercise. Here are ten questions for you to consider when creating your character. Obviously, you might need all of them but why not try?

  1. What does your character hate that everyone else loves? I live in a beer crazy city. I loathe beer. LOATHE. I also hate White Castle hamburgers and caviar just tastes like you’re sucking on a beach stone (or so I assume since I’ve tried caviar but not the rock).
  2. What food trend leaves your character cold? This could be fast food or a beverage or even something that is all over Pinterest. Think about it. Iced coffee. Pumpkin spice mania. Cookie dough ice cream.
  3. Name a strange food combination that your character loves. This one is going to be tough because no one thinks that their favorite combination is strange. It usually takes someone else to point it out. One of my friends loves candy corn and peanuts. It actually isn’t bad. My family growing up always ate cheddar with apple pie.
  4. What food does your character like but hates the smell of it cooking? Eggs? Rice? Just about any meat? Fish?
  5. What holiday food is unique to your character? Maybe their family always had lasagna or ham on Thanksgiving.
  6. What food does your character like only if it is fixed the way her mother made it? It could be meat loaf or fried chicken, mashed potatoes or biscuits.
  7. What food did your character hate growing up only to discover that their mom or whoever just couldn’t make it? I loathed oatmeal until my husband made it for me. I had to introduce him to tacos with actual taco sauce. Ketchup will not even be on the table. I will launch it out the back door.
  8. What travel snacks did your character grow up with? We had apricot nectar and Clamato, vienna sausages and saltines. My son grew up with Oreos and trail mix.
  9. What will your character never, ever serve because they hated it growing up? LIver and onions? Lima beans?
  10. What does your character consider comfort food? It doesn’t have to be the stereotypic mac-n-cheese. It could be BLTs or cottage cheese with sliced tomatoes.

Food preferences can show how old a character is, where they grew up, or just that they or quirky. Worried that your fiction may be stranger than fact? I grew up watching my father eat his favorite sandwich – peanut butter, baloney, mayo, a slice of onion and pickles. Gag.

Why not put a little thought into what your character will and will not eat?

–SueBE

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