Vida Vegan Con: Extreme Food Writing Makeover

As I’m a huge foodie AND an aspiring writer, I yearn to strengthen my food writing skills. So I attended the Extreme Food Writing Makeover at Vida Vegan Con with cookbook author Dynise Balcavage, cookbook author and Urban Vegan blogger. I’m quite opinionated and loquacious (what, me??) so I tend to write on and on. What can I say, I’m chatty. Balcavage provided unique insights and concrete examples on infusing brevity (one of my nemeses) into writing to make it more compelling.

Without further adieu, here are her tips for seductive food writing:

  • Find your own voice and style.
  • For beginning writers, you often just write what comes to mind. And that’s fine but you want to move beyond
  • Write using less words and more clarity.
  • Why are you blogging?
  • What differentiates my blogs from others? (focus, voice, location, etc.) – you have to get specific
  • Does my writing reflect my personality?
  • Food is 3-D, maybe even 4_D
  • SHOW, don’t tell:
  • Taste, see, smell, touch, hear and feel
  • Paint a picture, cook a meal, create surround sound, recreate an experience.
  • Nigella Lawson is a fantastic food writer and talks about touch in food.
  • Slow down your writing so you can think about it
  • Words are your ingredients – they are the foundation
  • “So what?” test – so many venues competing for your attention, but a blog isn’t asking you to commit hours of time but people still have to commit.
  • You need to grab their attention. Often people just look at the picture and the first sentence or two.
  • Rethink your verbs and adjectives
  • You can write “walk” OR stroll, wander, amble, hike, hurry, march – all of these express a different emotion or speed
  • You can write “eat” OR nosh, chew, chow down, gobble, savor inhale, devour
  • Adjectives are accessories
  • Don’t use clichés
  • Slow down and get more specific
  • Would you rather eat a delicious brownie OR an orgasmic brownie
  • Did you eat spicy salsa OR hellfire salsa
  • Was the restaurant service wonderful OR nurturing
  • Get rid of the words “delicious” and “awesome” (Uh oh)
  • Adverbs are like MSG – they’re overused and often unnecessary. If you feel you need an adverb, maybe you need to describe it more.
  • “I ate the doughnut slowly.” OR “I nibbled at the chocolate icing, letting it melt on my tongue. Then I bit into the damp…”
  • Inventing new words – language is fluid
  • I splattered the icing OR I JacksonPollacked the icing (LOVE this!)
  • If you can’t find the right word, you might have to make it up
  • Focused and brief
  • Ask yourself, “What is this blog post about?”
  • Do not stray from the topic, no matter how tempted
  • Keep it short. Most effective blog posts are 150-300 well written words, never more than 500 words, no extraneous words (Yikes…I REALLY need to work on this!)
  • You need to have a compelling title
  • Read articulate food writers (Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Nigella Lawson, Mark Bittman) for inspiration

Read all my posts on Vida Vegan Con 2011 and follow my tweets at #VidaVeganCon.

One thought on “Vida Vegan Con: Extreme Food Writing Makeover

  1. Pingback: Pies/Hearts/Tarts & an Interview with Dynise Balcavage | Get Sconed!

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