Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, August 06, 2009

In Defense of Omelets

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I got my edits back for my book that's coming out in the spring. I skimmed through the comments first, just getting a feel for things and then I dug in. I think my editor did a great job, but there was one comment that made my jaw drop.

She said, "Omelets aren't romantic food."

What? Omelets aren't romantic food? As much as I love my editor, I think omelets are definitely romantic food. Is there any food that couldn't be a romantic food, really? Especially if you are in a safehouse, being followed by terrorists and you have just enough time to make one last dinner. You haven't eaten in thirty-six hours, and you're exhausted, so you look in the safehouse fridge and all there is to eat is eggs, peppers and cheese. So the hero chops the veggies, the heroine whips the eggs, they try to forget for a moment the danger and the hurt, so they smile a little, banter a little, and voila! our duo is sitting down to their last dinner in a fairly good mood considering. (It may or may not be a romantic mood since apparently omelets are not romantic food and you cannot have romance if you are having omelets. Perhaps a nice quiche?)

I decided to google what is considered romantic food. Several results came up, including oysters, strawberries, asparagus, almonds, chocolate, bananas, and tossed salad with lots of garlic croutons, or just plain garlic itself (seriously!). So I was thinking, if I really wanted this dinner to be romantic, I should have a few of these things in the safehouse fridge. Maybe they could whip up some chocolate strawberries, throw in some garlic and asparagus and finish off with oysters and bananas, and wash it down with chilled sparkling cider. However, my hero would probably throw up and then THAT wouldn’t be considered romantic. So now I don’t know what to do. I thought about changing the menu to chicken or fish, but the things that would be in a safehouse fridge are probably limited and they are on a pretty strict time frame. They can’t be lollygagging around defrosting chicken and hoping that the terrorists don’t find them before the grillin’s done if you know what I mean. *sigh* A writer’s work is never done.

It’s not exactly a romantic dinner anyway, it’s more of a planning dinner so they don’t die, of starvation or otherwise, but there is a near kiss since, hey, if you’re going to die and you have one last dinner with a beautiful woman who is a smart capable foreign intelligence agent, wouldn’t you think about kissing her? And is anyone thinking of food at this point anyway, romantic or not, when death is on the line?

So I am turning my dilemma to you, dear reader. Should I change what my main characters are eating for their final dinner to make it more romantic food or just leave it as is since there is only a hint of romance anyway? If I did change it, what could I feasibly change it to? Do you think omelets are romantic food? Why or why not?

And my real reason for writing this blog: If you are an omelet lover, do you feel cheated that it’s not on the exclusive list of romantic foods? I know I do. Perhaps we should band together to improve the omelet’s image.

Rev Up the Romance with Omelets

Ooh Over Omelets

The Ultimate Romance Starts with Omelets

Edward Loves Omelets

Get Equally Yolked With Omelets

Omelets Answer the Age Old Question: To Be or Not to Be

Don’t Have Egg on Your Face! Make Omelets!

The possibilities are endless!

Omelet Lovers Unite!


At 8/06/2009 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought it is true that people need to eat, you should only select a "dinner" scene if eating inspires the mood that you want to inspire. Dinner + hero + heroine = romance.

But the feelings of these two characters are not likely inspired by a quiet meal together as they contemplate romantic bliss. They're in a safe house. They're worried about their lives. The future is very uncertain. There could be pain. There could be intrigue. Their lives depend on planning every step, logically, carefully, and they're doing it together.

Having a romantic dinner where there is banter is likely the last thing this scene needs.

You may have selected the wrong activity. What actions would act as a metaphor for the peril that awaits them? Dinner doesn't seem to be nearly as closely aligned to the dramatic goals of this scene as does, possibly:

1. Cleaning a pistol

2. Checking communication devices, GPS, doing the gizmo thing.

3. Going over maps, plotting a gett-a-way strategy.

All of these activities lead the reader and the characters to consider what if we don't make? And if we do make it, will you still love me?

Physical peril draws people closer. Use that peril, that fear, the sense of impending loss, to bring these two closer. There is no food that acts as a metaphor for the emotions you're trying for in this scene. Chuck the dinner altogether, find another activity that will draw out the emotional closeness you're trying so hard to put over, and ruining with a dinner. I think its a bad choice. You want an activity that will keep reminding the reader and the characters of the fear, the danger, the need for them to depend on each other for their very lives.

Put the eggs back in the fridge. Get out the gun.

At 8/06/2009 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may not have been as clear as I wanted to be in the first comment. Here is some clarification.

A scene like this depends on the heroine and hero being driven closer not by feelings of romantic bliss, but by feelings of deep trust fostered by a dependence on the actions of each other to save their lives. It is very romantic to trust someone with your life. But it isn't a romantic bliss sort of thing. Its a survival things. You're trusting each other with your life. You really should do two things with this scene:

1. Make sure that the planning emphasizes that if one fails, the life of the other is imperiled. That will heighten the need to trust each other with their lives. That is a very powerful romantic idea.

2. Select an activity that will reinforce, or better yet, act as a metahpor for peril, danger, and/or trust. Having dinner is a distraction from the drama that you're trying to put over in this scene. In fact, the dinner may actually get in the way or water down the real emotions that you may not have uncovered entirely in this scene.

Your editor told you that omletes were a bad choice. I think he/she missed the whole point. Dinner is a bad choice.

At 8/06/2009 3:12 PM, Anonymous Mex Davis said...

I fell in love with my wife over making pizzas during a YSA activity, why not omelettes (also can be spelled with 1 't'). I've seen many hollywood movies where couples make eggs before and after the romance. I think your editor is wrong about the scene. Cooking together is always romantic, smells of the herbs, heat from the stove, close bodies and shared interest. I'm sending the kids out for pizza and my wife and I are making omelettes tonight! Keep the eggs and fix the other things.

At 8/06/2009 3:23 PM, Blogger J Scott Savage said...

I see your point anon, but I disagree. You have a very tense scene in the past (I am only guessing but the fact that they haven't eaten for quite some time, leads me to believe it), and a tense situation coming up.

This is your interlude. You let the reader take a breath and spend a little romance time before going back to the action. It lets off some steam and actually raises the stakes of the next scene by backing off just a little.

In my opinion, this is the difference between romantic suspense and straight thriller.

I do agree that the editor may be asking the wrong question though. Is it the omelet that is not romantic enough or the scene? I would recommend rereading the scene and checking to see if the editor is right on the problem—not romantic enough—but wrong on the fix.

At 8/06/2009 3:40 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Anon, you have given me a lot of food for thought and I appreciate what you have said. Maybe it is the wrong activity altogether. However, Mr. Savage is right in the fact that we've just come off of a big tense rollercoaster ride of events and this is the last scene before the big ending battle. It's like the little breath you take before you jump in the fray. They're starving, they're worried, and they're trying to figure out how to live through this. I do have them making plans through the scene and there really is only a hint of romance in the entire dinner, as I mention in the blog. I don't know, I just love the dinner scene and maybe that's where I've gone wrong--as soon as you love what you've written it will inevitably get cut. I will think some more on this.

Mex Davis, I so agree with you. I love cooking together and think it can be highly romantic, no matter what it is! I think I shall make omelettes tonight myself. ;)

At 8/06/2009 6:01 PM, Blogger Sue said...

I think you should have them eat bologna. SO ROMANTIC.

At 8/06/2009 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not suggesting you have another catch and chase scene after you've just finished a string of catch and chase scenes. Jeff suggests a breather. And that's what the scene calls for.

The question should be, is this a breather over eggs or a breather over some other activity? The answer is in what dramatic points you want to emphasize. Eggs is a romantic banter moment that takes the reader down the home spun, we are all safe and enjoying one another's company. That works if the reader knows that the bad guys are outside surrounding the safe house as the couple is enjoying their eggs benedict and the reader is screaming get out you fools, can't you see, they're coming for you.

But in this scene, the romantic drawing together comes from trust in one another. They are going to put their lives on the line for each other, they have to trust each other, they have to depend on each other, they have to love each other more than they love themselves (possibly) in order to see that they get each other out safely.

That is a supreme kind of love and if you want to explore that kind of love in your novel, then this scene would be the perfect time to set that up for your closing catch and chase scene.

Or you could have dinner.

At 8/06/2009 6:56 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Hmmm... anon, I've read what you're saying, but I'm not sure I am understanding what you are getting at. Are you suggesting that they forego the dinner to just make plans, and talk about what's coming, thus ratcheting up the trust and lives at stake angle? Or, make it more about dramatic irony where the audience knows something the characters don't? Sort of taking a breath, but not really, and keep the tension amped up? Wouldn't that just make the reader tired? I guess I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to tell me. :(

At 8/06/2009 7:06 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Omelets can be romantic. They're one of those special treats our family enjoys at special times like Christmas, Fourth of July breakfast, etc. And I agree with both Anon and Jeff. What your characters are eating isn't important and you shouldn't make it important. It's make do because they're hungry. Make their plans and actions important and the food almost an afterthought. Skip things like fancy place settings, romantic touches, let the romance come from their discovery of trust, protectiveness, shared danger, and accepting there is no one they'd rather face life--or death--with than the other.

At 8/06/2009 7:32 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Thanks for your input, Jennie. I really thought I had the balance with the planning of their next move and the slight down time, but perhaps I have slipped too far to one side. I'll definitely look at it again and perhaps pull back. That's the good part of edits is that things can still be changed, right? I've really gotten some great feedback today that I'm grateful for. Lots to think about.

At 8/06/2009 9:39 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Never having been in a safehouse myself, I can't say for sure, but I'd think they'd have lots of canned or dried things and not perishables. ??

They could find a bag of dried strawberries and a couple of Hershey bars. . .?

Along with some canned oysters. (bleck)

On second thought? Stick with the omelette.

At 8/07/2009 12:06 AM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Sue, I just had to tell you "bologna" made me laugh. Thanks for that!

And Karlene, come on, 'fess up. You know you are the connoisseur of safehouses. ;)

At 8/07/2009 2:03 AM, Blogger Melanie J said...

I seriously just finished a manuscript with a romantic omelette scene, so clearly I'm the wrong person to ask. But since you did ask, stick with an omelette. It would be hard to think of something that's would be in the safehouse fridge that would be both romantic and not contrived.

At 8/07/2009 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think omelettes are the perfect food - they can be prepared quickly, but are not your ordinary fare such as mere scrambled eggs would be - they are a little bit special. (and very filling.)

If I were under stress and knew it might be my last meal - an omelette would suit me to a T. (I just wish I could spell it!!)
Forget the quiche - quiches are for sissies.

At 8/07/2009 12:43 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

In all seriousness, I think the way you have it is just right. The situation sounds real and believable, rather than something fabricated to toss a bit of romance in. The omelet becomes romantic by virtue of the experience of the two people creating it.

At 8/07/2009 6:49 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Ahm lette to the party...

'Amlet: Two eggs or not two eggs, that is the question...

I think just about anything with mixed ingredients could be romantic.

Here's a scene from my upcoming romance-in-the-kitchen book, The Heart Has Its Seasonings:

The couple stands close together at the stove. She stirs the eggs languidly while he dribbles tomatoes in. He offers her a pinch and she leans back against him and opens wide...

At 8/07/2009 7:53 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Jon: Ha! (It's probably about time to let that go.)

Anon: There is probably somebody on the planet who is less of a romantic than you, but I haven't yet met him. :)On the other hand, you do have some good points that I plan to remember/employ if I ever write again!

At 8/07/2009 9:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

French Toast is more romantic than omelets... Im not sure how... but I do know FT tastes better! :)

~Hilary Blair

At 8/07/2009 11:33 PM, Blogger Primarymary said...

If I hadn't eaten in 36 hours and was being chased by terrorists, I think an omlette would be the perfect comfort food. I don't know how romantic it is, but it sounds like the perfect food for the situation. Quiche takes too much time and the chances of them having everything they need too make on in a safe house is probably not good.

At 8/08/2009 7:17 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I say, "keep the omelets." It's logical (considering what would be in the fridge) and it also portrays an act of two people helping each other with a basic necessity in a hostile situation. I think it's tender and practical. If you did something like strawberries and chocolate, as a reader, I'd find that highly unrealistic and have a hard time with plausibility and satisfaction. That's just me. I say keep the eggies.

At 8/09/2009 11:37 PM, Blogger Danyelle Ferguson said...

My thoughts - if that's really the situation your characters are in (the terrorists, safe house, etc), then putting in a nice quiche makes me step back and say - Wow! They really had that much time? Quiche makes me think of a nice sunday brunch.

Of course, at our house, I get into writing mode and am known to just scramble up a bunch of eggs, with a side of toast and call it a quick dinner.

I'd say keep the omelets. It's quick and easy - something more suitable for the feeling of the scene.

At 8/13/2009 6:30 PM, Blogger Heather Justesen said...

Omelets not romantic? What? Breakfast in bed is terribly romantic, and what is breakfast without eggs? Huh? They're the staff of life. =)

Peanut butter isn't terribly romantic either, (and that's not even considering the resulting peanut butter breath), but if the scene is written right, I don't think what they are eating is going to matter all that much to the reader.


Post a Comment

<< Home