Layering Flavors in Your Writing

I am on an eternal quest to link writing with cooking. If I could simply saute my words over a medium heat, I’m sure I could whip up some splendid prose.

I recently attended a cooking class (a gift for my birthday). A lot of what the lady said I already knew, but then she mentioned something that piqued my interest. It was a soup class and she had a bowl of salt and pepper next to the stove. Every time she added a new ingredient, she tossed in a generous helping of the seasonings. She called this “layering the flavor.”

I thought, this can totally be applied to writing. So often I see people (myself included) simply dump all the description or information in one spot in the story. That’s akin to adding all your salt and pepper at once. Sure it can work, but it doesn’t build flavor. Think about those cooks who toil over a pot of chili all day. You know darn well they’re constantly  seasoning and tasting all day. Writers need to do the same.

Break up that description. Give a generous helping to start, but when more dialogue appears or a new event happens, add a bit more description. Keep sprinkling it in until you’re done with the scene.

I have a set of tiny (and entirely overpriced) spoons I bought for my daughter to use with her tea set. Now they’re my tasting spoons, so I can slurp up the flavor of the soup. Damn if that layering thing don’t work.

Taste your work, just the way chefs do. After you finish a scene, read it over and see how it feels. Not just once, but a few times. Does it need more description? Do you need to break up the dialogue with beats? Do it. Don’t rush to finish. Savor your writing.

I swear, someday I’ll invent a way to bake up a novel. Then I’ll publish the recipe and retire. Until then, layer and taste your way through writing.

Tim Kane


About Tim Kane

Tim Kane is a writer of fiction.
This entry was posted in Writing Advice and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Layering Flavors in Your Writing

  1. …and I suppose all good chefs must at some point leave a dish alone for awhile to let it meld and gain some perspective, too.

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  3. funsherpany says:

    I read lot of articles and really like this article. This information is definitely useful for everyone in daily life. Fantastic job.

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