Does Your Book Have Onions In It?

If hot dogs or cheese aren’t involved, my kid’s won’t eat it. In attempt to expand their dining horizons, I’ve started to make a Kielbasa casserole. It’s really good, my husband loves it, has vegetables, and let’s be honest – kielbasa looks like hot dogs.

I baked up a big batch and served it to the kiddos. Then watched in frustration as my son picked out every fiber-and-vitamin-filled bite.

“Gavin!” I shouted. “What are you doing?”

He continued poking pieces and moving them to the side. “This is yucky. This is yucky.” And holding up a tiny bit of onion, said, “This is the yuckiest.”

“No, no, no. The onions are the best! They make everything else taste better.”

“Mommy,” he groaned. “It smells like armpits.”

Once I recovered from my fit of laughing, and encouraged him to try some green pepper, I thought about what my five-year-old pointed out: Onions smell like Daddy after a football game.

Gav’s watched me cook. Sometimes he likes to help (mostly when I’m grating cheese), but he won’t come in the kitchen when I’m chopping onions. Why would anyone want to eat something that smells bad enough to make your eyes water?

I am not going to take a big bite of raw onion. I don’t even like red onion on my sandwiches. But there is no denying the value of onions to a roast, a soup, even a salad.

Onions make everything taste better!

Sometimes I worry that my manuscript – like bad cooking – lacks the savor of onion.

A good plot must have highs and lows, areas when you give the reader a break from the action. There must be places in the novel when nothing is happening, when you get to know the inner workings of the character.

Standing alone, those chapters or paragraphs might be “yucky.” No one wants to read an entire novel about a girl sitting in her room, pining for her lost love. That’s too much onion. But without an adequate sprinkling of those scenes, readers don’t connect to the character.

As I write I have to make sure to add the character’s emotion. That’s how I add onion.

What is it that you focus on to make sure your plot, characters, settings have enough flavor that a reader wants to stick around for seconds?

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