Eating together around a table is a family tradition in many cultures and sub-cultures. Unfortunately, in America we seem to be drifting away from eating family dinner together each evening. In my family, when I was growing up, my grandma did the cooking, and it was always delicious. When I raised my children, I made sure we ate dinner together every possible evening. The dinner table is a way for people to relax, enjoy, and learn to relate to each other. That’s why it’s a good device for an author.
Here’s an excerpt from my novel, Goodbye Milky Way – An Earth in Jeopardy Adventure, where a budding romance ensues, as a man and a woman accompany each other to the dinner table:
They walked downstairs together and sat next to each other at the [dining] table. They exchanged brief stories about their careers, then almost simultaneously looked around and realized they had been ignoring everyone else. They grinned sheepishly at each other and began independently interacting with others at the table.
The dining table also provides the author with a way to extract personal information from a particular character and transmit it to many characters at the same time. This excerpt from Goodbye Milky Way is of an extraterrestrial, the Guardian, explaining his food preferences:
“Guardian, I can’t help but wonder if you can eat the same food as we do, and if it differs significantly from what your people normally eat,” commented Marla.
“We have no particular diet, as we’re fortunate enough to be able to eat food from many different worlds. Often it’s not practical to prepare local staples for consumption, so we tend to fall back on pre-processed condensed food tablets with a variety of flavors, but containing all necessary nutrients,” answered the Guardian.
“Would it be possible for me to sample some of your food tablets?” asked Marla.
“Yes, physiologically, the tablets would work the same for you, but you might find it hard to acquire a taste for them, as the flavors are . . . how shall I say it . . . alien to you,” responded the Guardian. “I have some in my quarters that I’ll bring you tomorrow.”
“When consuming human food, do you eat meat, too, or do you prefer vegetables?” asked Don.
“I’ve acquired a taste for meat and vegetables cooked in the style of many of earth’s cultures,” said the Guardian. “The only thing I won’t consume is a dish comprised of insects. Many of the lesser cultures near the equator seem to relish insects cooked and alive. I prefer the worst of my food tablets over insects no matter how they’re prepared.”
“I can certainly relate to that thought,” said Don.
The dialog around a table provides an opportunity for the author to delve into the personalities of the characters, reveal their desires, or provide descriptive information about them. Of course any device can be overdone, so it’s important for an author to mix it up with verbal images that arouse the reader’s imagination.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing some Food For Thought, Dan!
You can find Dan at:www.danmakaon.com