Monday, January 31, 2011

Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob

What do you look for in a food blog? Are you drawn in by gorgeous photos? Are you perhaps captivated by delicious dishes? Or are you arrested by compelling writing? These are the three areas of our pursuit that food bloggers are keen to develop. I have certainly felt over the life of this blog that both my photography and cooking have improved. But I have a hankering to learn to craft beautiful sentences, too.

As a result, and since January was my selection month at the Kitchen Reader, I have been devouring the book Will Write For Food. Dianne Jacob is a well-known editor and food writer who advises and guides others with her skills. Her book (and blog) makes useful and fascinating reading for cookbook writers, recipe developers and food bloggers. Her own writing is friendly and informative; the book also includes writing exercises which helped me turn her guidance into prose of which I'm proud. For example I wrote a paragraph about the glory of eating an apple and refined it with vigorous words.

Here is a selection of the tips I found most immediately useful.
--Avoid describing food by excessive use of adjectives, since this can be quickly become ludicrously flowery. Instead use strong verbs and give details which paint a scene.
--Describe using all the senses.
--Food bloggers shoud aim to take better pictures, respond to all reader comments, and nurture a sense of community in their blogs.
--Read great food writing: online, in newspapers and magazines, and books. First on my library list are books by MFK Fisher and Harold McGee.
--Approach a story by asking, What is the non-obvious angle? (Incidentally, this is a great question to ask when taking food photos, too.)
--Keep a taste diary and record what you experience.

In addition to pages of useful encouragement and suggestions for blogging, there are also chapters addressing cookbook writing, restaurant reviewing, getting published as a freelancer, and developing recipes. I will be using this invaluable book for months as I strive to become a better writer. I am also looking forward to seeing what the other Kitchen Readers implement. Here are their reviews:
--Stacy of Little Blue Hen
--Jill at Jill's Blog
--PharmaFoodie's review
--Jennifer at Truly Vibrant

Readers, please tell me, is engaging writing something you look for in a food blog? And fellow bloggers, what are you learning about photography, cooking, or writing?


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