Serving Up What People Deserve

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
         One recent Sunday I was watching a story on the CBS Sunday Morning program. The segment that had me stuck in my chair, fascinated, was about the Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia. An award-winning restaurant (Rooster Soup) has teamed up with a homeless shelter to serve up restaurant-quality meals to people in need.

        No, the homeless don't stand in line for their gruel. They sit at tables with table cloths, they're served by wait staff (volunteers), and the food they get? Well, my mouth was watering over huge burritos that took up the whole plate and were drizzled with some delicious-looking sauce.

        The director of the program. The chefs. The servers. They all believe that no matter what people look like or how they smell, they deserve to be served up in a hospitable manner.

        Which got me thinking. What should we serve up to our readers? What do they deserve?

  • The most delectable beginning we can mustard (okay, I couldn't resist) A memorable book, just like a memorable meal, begins with something to whet our appetite. Is your beginning compelling? Does it lure the reader into reading more?
  • Some credit  Readers are capable of connecting the dots. Leave them in the dark for a bit... they'll nibble their way to the right conclusion if they're given some clues along the way. Don't insist on spelling every single thing out. Readers are smart and can think for themselves. Give them a little credit when it comes to their intelligence. 
  • A warm welcome  No matter what kind of story it is, it's more engaging if the reader feels like they're being immersed in the events. If it's a murder mystery potboiler, the reader should feel like they're right beside the detective (or the future victim) as the story unfolds. The sensory details. The character's thoughts/inner dialogue. The ambience. Being able to escape into a book is a delicious way to while away an afternoon.
  • A satisfying ending  A marvelous meal deserves a bit of dessert at the end. A well-crafted story deserves an ending that hits the spot, ties up all the loose ends and leaves a satisfactory aftertaste. If the book or short story comes to an abrupt ending, it almost feels to the reader like they were cheated... like they had their plate taken away before the meal was finished. 

           How about you? What do you like served up when you dig into a book? Hungry minds want to know...

Sioux Roslawski is a classroom teacher, a consultant for the National Writing Project, a freelance writer, a dog rescuer for Love a Golden Rescue, a wife, a mother and a grandmother. She's currently trying to finish up her 2017 NaNoWriMo project so that, someday, she can serve it up to readers. If you'd like to read more of her stuff, check out her blog.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Great analogy, Sioux! All of your tips are great. Some credit is a good one, and a warm welcome. I like to feel close to the narrator, emotionally invested in her story. I guess I'd add that I like to learn something. It doesn't matter what it is--whether it's about the mating rituals of crows or how to make blue meth or how to train your pet crows to make blue meth--I always appreciate when a writer teaches me something. :)

Margo Dill said...

I like what you said about not spelling everything out for readers. Yes! Yes! Yes! Overexplaining is the quickest way to bore your readers! :)

Thanks for sharing about the Broad Street Ministry program too.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Angela--If you got Vince Gilligan to write the show about the crows making blue meth, I'd gladly watch it. Would it be called "Cawing Bad"?

I love to learn about things, too. I think all of my favorite novels have taught me--about elephants, or wolves, or the holocaust or--more recently--about midwives (in Sandra Dallas' "The Last Midwife").

Margo--As usual, you reminded me of something so important to writers. Yes, overexplaining bores readers. I hate to be bored--so does everybody else.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I want an ending that makes me feel like my investment of time was worth it.

I may not always like the way a book ends, but I think the ending has to be somehow justified. Nothing makes me crazier than those out-of-left field endings.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Bwahahaha!! Cawing Bad... you're hilarious, Sioux!

My hubby is getting a tattoo tomorrow and I was thinking about getting one too. Crows have been on my mind lately, so I looked up how many it takes to be considered a "murder" of crows. I found this website that said technically two crows make a murder. Then the site said that while technically a murder consists of two, it's better to include three or more because only including two is like an attempted murder.

I laughed when I read that!

Mary Horner said...

Great post. I like being immersed in a world where I can step back and take a look around and feel comfortable. A little escapism is good for the soul!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--I sooo agree with you. I loved "Gone Girl" but hated the ending.

Our time is valuable, so the book needs to be worthy...

Angela--I used to love crows when I was a kid--wanted to trap one, tame it, and teach it to say "Nevermore." Now, I am fascinated with ravens, after traveling to see the Grand Canyon. To me, they're like crows--on steroids and on "clever pills."

I hope you share what tattoo you get (if you got one). VERY curious minds want to know... (says one inked woman to perhaps another ;)

Mary--THAT is the word I was looking for: escape. I love to escape in a book.

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