On the weekend I had an amazing dining experience at Café 3875 & Co. in Rosedale, Victoria. My friends and I gathered to celebrate another friend’s birthday. Admittedly, my daughter and I approached the experience with some trepidation due to our various food allergies and intolerances.
Entering the establishment we were stunned by the eclectic decor. The hours that we were there, we were still discovering something new to point out. There was a lovely and varied menu to suit even gluten free and vegetarians. All the staff were warm and friendly.
I have to say that the Chef, Lucus, bent over backwards to cater to my daughter’s and mine dietary requirements. The chef personally came out, introduced himself, and even checked to make sure that the food was to our specifications. It was delicious by the way. It was so nice to eat out and not pay for it later, i.e. curled up in bed for a few hours with stomach cramps etc.
You also won’t go hungry. I have to say, the plates and the quantities placed on them were HUGE, and the food was scrumdiddliumptious.
Then there were the little touches. A birthday card from the café that was for my friend, was on the table when we arrived. There was the coffee art, the little tiny biscuits on the teeny teaspoons, and every spoon unique. There was the little flower art on the plates with pancakes, the cute little milk jugs only 1 cm high, the little bitty honey pot just for me for my Spiced Chai Tea, the lovely little teapots, the perfume for use in the bathroom... well you get the picture.
We will certainly be returning and recommending the cafe to everyone.
Which brings me writing. How, you may be asking, does this relate?
I have a friend who illustrates children’s picture books. I love watching her work. She loves placing little things throughout her detailed pictures that you have to hunt for. I always end up spotting something that I hadn’t seen before, even months down the track. It’s those little details that add to the overall enjoyable experience of a picture book.
I write for children. The experience at the cafe had me asking the question, ‘How can I, a children’s writer, add the little things in my stories, that will make a child fall in love with my characters?’
Choosing a character that a child will identify with, adding little things about the child, likes, dislikes, setting, writing a story that child can relate to - all these can add to a story. But, it can be the tone of voice, an action, just one little word, that can change the overall feel of a story.
I will keep this experience in mind as I write from now on. I will also try to remember it in my day to day dealings with people. How about this as a challenge: Ring and say thanks for the nice day out. Send a card or note just to say hi. Have special cups for guests. Maybe little chocolates or biscuits to go with their tea. A flower from the garden as they head home.
Whatever it is, be true to yourself, be creative and keep in mind, it is in the little things that others are made to feel special.
At a recent writer’s group we were discussing the various rules of writing. Some we were aware of. Some we were not. Some we were very pedantic about. It was recently said to me that, “you have to know the rules, to break the rules.” But why do these rules even exist?
For a fun exercise we each chose a rule to break. The rule I chose to break was ‘leave breadcrumbs for your readers.’ So, no secrets. Give everything away straight upfront.
The following is a scene that I wrote for this writer’s group exercise:
Sue sat on a hard café chair listening to the cacophony of sound around her. The clatter of cups. The ebb and flow of voices from other customers. This was same café chair that she had sat on every Saturday morning for the last five years. Always waiting for her boyfriend, Sam to show up. He was always late.
Pity. Sam was so hot, but such an abusive twat.
She took a sip of the sweet strong brew and let out a sigh. She wondered why she stayed here waiting. Maybe because she had such a crap upbringing. Totally messed her up. Brought up by an abusive single mother, and no father figure to speak of, she always craved male attention. Boy could she pick them!
She escaped home as soon as she could. Hooked up with the first guy that said that, ‘they were made for each other.’ The next guy said, when they first met, ‘you complete me.’ She should have run.
And now here she was. Though, to be honest, being out all night and partying with the girls the night before, was probably not a good idea. She looked like a wreak. Sam would comment. He always did.
Suddenly, she leapt to her feet, slammed the chair into the table so hard it made the coffee cups rattle, and walked out of the café… and out of Sam’s life.
As you can see, there is so much about Sue that we already know. If I was writing a novel about Sue’s life, I would have her backstory scattered like breadcrumbs throughout the narrative. I love stories that I gradually find out more and more of the character and what makes them tick. This exercise certainly highlighted to me the necessity of leaving breadcrumbs, little snippets of information, to entice the reader to want to know more, and so, therefore, to keep reading.
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