Unskilled Labor of Love

The actual question of the week was one that I posed: “Do your characters tend to have skills that you have yourself? Do you write about people who do things that you wish that you could manage?”

The answer to that should be another: “Why do I always think that I will remember what I had in mind when I first thought of this question?”

I truly haven’t a clue.

As I run through my works or works-in-progress, I see that many of the stories are based on true events, those that happened to me, and to others around me.

 I have put only a bit of my actual skills in my works of pure fiction and believe it or not, none have anything to do with cooking.

 One of my biggest works involves an exotic locale and although food is mentioned, some who know of the story often comment that they expected to see me go into greater detail on the local foodstuffs. There is really no sense in that, as it adds nothing to the story and the protagonist is not involved in the making of it. It’s mostly mentioned for a little color and as part of the plotline to show what is going on with the husband and wife within the story.

The wife in the story does bookkeeping from home and I did that, but it was no big deal. I was not a whiz, neither is she, and it is not part of the actual plot.

Another of my mostly fictitious stories involves a magician and well, no, I never could pull off even a card trick and I have never, ever wanted to get involved in performing magic.

One story has a woman who has things happening to her that are akin to things that happened to me, but more like those of someone I know, and the young  woman protagonist has the job of someone else who I knew, and not one that I ever coveted, nor, indeed, believe that I am suited to do.

Now, there is my angel story, or, to be precise, the story about an angel that my grandson gave to me some years ago. I could probably do the job that one of the women in the story ends up doing, (counseling the dying), but I could not have at her age. Another woman in the story works in a book sales and repair shop, and I would like to work there, but she doesn’t do the actual work, so, no, (and I would not want to be her for anything on the planet.)

Of course, there is the guardian angel. I guess I don’t even have to explain how I am not in any way able to manage Heavenly skills.

I know this post is lame, and I wish to Heaven that I had made notes for this. I realize now that I maybe should stretch out and use my few developed talents in my works or look into those that I wish I could do, and add it to my writing.

However, I believe that there are far too many cozies out there with bakeshops and tearooms with recipes in the back for me to go down that road.

I have to say that I am surprised by finding that next to none of my characters have skills to which I can lay claim, or even those I wish that I had attained.

This is something for me to ponder.


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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11 Responses to Unskilled Labor of Love

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    It’s true that you don’t need to go into a lot of detail about food if it doesn’t add to the story, but I’m sure your knowledge helped you write about the characters’ enjoyment when eating or smelling it. And having done certain jobs makes it easier to write about specific tasks one does while there. As you say, it helps with the flavor of the story.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I suppose. I didn’t even go into that much detail with the food. The characters are in a completely unique environment and, well, if you get to read it, you’ll see the reasons why I had to go into any food at all.


  2. Jeff Salter says:

    Speaking of overloaded detail. I’m presently reading a book — The Dogs of War — by Frederick Forsyth, who is one of my favorite authors in the genre of intrigue / action.
    Problem is, I’m a couple hundred pages in… and so far it’s read like a textbook on how to smuggle weapons and ammo. Incredible extent of detail.
    And whatever action occurs, apparently will be hurriedly covered in the final 50 pages or so.
    Very puzzling text from an author with international standing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It happens, Jeff. Authors have to watch that whatever interests THEM, would interest the general population or all of their readers. It is an easy pit to fall into. An author is passionate about something and so they add what is interesting or ‘common knowledge’ among those who have an interest in one area, but it is distracting to the rest of the population.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Regarding your comment, “…although food is mentioned, some who know of the story often comment that they expected to see me go into greater detail on the local foodstuffs. There is really no sense in that, as it adds nothing to the story and the protagonist is not involved in the making of it. …”

    It’s true that sometimes giving too much detail can detract from your story, but I disagree with not adding details that add nothing to the plot line. It’s all about getting the reader involved in your story. Sensory details, such as sight, taste, and smell add depth of detail to the writing. They are what draws your reader into what the characters are experiencing.

    How many times I’ve heard from my critiquers “I can actually see it,” or “I can taste that now,” I can’t tell you, but times are numerous. And these are critiquers. My readers have often commented how real my scenes and characters are in the stories. It’s because of those sensory details that I add that don’t have anything to do with the actual plot of the story, but have to do with what the character is experiencing at the time. The reader experiences it too.

    Listen to your readers. You don’t have to describe every single taste, ingredient, or smell, but don’t cut yourself short when adding an extra detail to the description in order to help the reader have the same experience as the character. It’s worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sharon. I am striving for that balance in the story; you hit the nail on the head. The problem is that many know that I was a professional and still have a cooking/entertaining blog, and so they expect cupcake recipes in the back of the book. That will never happen. However, I hope that the reader understands that there are new and exciting foods outside of their sphere as the ones on the island are to the couple in the story, and how their new experiences enhance their enjoyment, but can distract from what lies beneath.


      • There’s no fear of distraction when you make the story exciting for the reader. And I have an author-friend who does include a recipe or two in the back of her books for the dishes she describes in the story, when it’s something not easily found online. The readers love it. At the back of the book, there’s no fear of it distracting the reader. I’m thinking of doing something similar with the story I’m writing now set on O’ahu.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think it may be because I post recipes on another blog, Sharon, but then you think that would make it easier! Honestly, I don’t know how to make the foods that I have seen and heard of and really want to get on with the story.
          However, if you have an interesting food in your story and you know how to make it, bring it on! I’m always interested.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’m sure you learned a lot of skills during your working life. For example, you can cook, and to do that requires not only an enthusiasm for food but also patience, learning how to follow or tweak a recipe, etc. I think you’re right that some authors add way too much detail. I was in a class with a woman who did that, and I dreaded to critique her work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, you understand. Too much is too much, but I can understand the writers’ enthusiasm, but one has to take into consideration the possible lack of enthusiasm on the part of the reader. I never want to do a food-based book; I have a blog for that!


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