Every week, my grandma hosts Sunday lunch (dinner, not supper). All the aunts and uncles and cousins are there, and Grandma makes a pot roast or chicken, with all the fixings, plenty of them.The scent drifts down the hallway to the garage, and in the kitchen the smell mingles with hustle and bustle. Someone is always talking, there’s food set out on the kitchen table ready for the dining room, and small grandchildren run about with toys in hand. The kitchen is the hub, the boys lay around in the living room, and Grandpa dozes on the couch waiting for lunch. A granddaughter bangs keys on the piano; none related, no melody. Just glee.
When dinner is steaming on the long seasonal tablecloth in the dining room, grandma calls everyone in. Each sits in his or her own chair, the same for years. After Grandpa prays, dishes fly. Within twenty minutes everyone is done eating, the little ones are roaming, and the boys are asking for dessert. Grandma always has it, plenty for everyone.
It is the quintessential Sunday dinner; hubbub, food, community, generations, noise and confusion. It is tradition, Sunday Dinner—but no one is there for the food. If it was, everyone would make their own meal and stay home. It’s for the experience. The togetherness, community, hubbub, and all the week’s fresh talk.
Grandma changes the food week by week. If she didn’t, after weeks of the same meal (even though no one really comes for the food), everyone would be sick of it. Sunday dinner isn’t about the food—but it does matter.
Technically, writing isn’t about the fixings—but the fixings do matter.
If Grandma had everyone over and said there was no meal prepared, the mood would turn sour fast (behind the polite “Oh-it-doesn’t-matter”s. Even if something isn’t actually necessary, we notice (and experience varying levels of displeasure) when it’s missing.
You can write a story without creativity; it’s the bare bones and basics of what happened, like a bullet point list. Or, you can write a story with all the excellence of careful craftsmanship. The details of the story won’t change—but the reader’s enjoyment will be far greater.
Everyone wants to read a well written story, even and balanced. The details without the colors are monotonous; the colors without the details are frivolous.
Write colors into your details, like a good Sunday Dinner. Your readers will thank you.
What colors do you write with?