On Chopped, each of the chefs is critiqued on three things: Presentation, Taste and Creativity. When all of those three ingredients come together the chef has created a gourmet masterpiece that will please even the toughest of food critics. The more I thought about it the more I realized that you could say the same thing about writing.
Presentation: This is the nuts and bolts of writing. Is the plot fully fleshed out? Do the characters grow and develop throughout the story? Is the language descriptive, active and engaging? Do you avoid telling, info dumps and other writing pitfalls? Does the writing flow well and seamlessly, hooking the reader and pulling them into the story? In writing, like in cooking, when all of the ingredients come together in a purposeful and masterful way the result is a beautiful masterpiece that just begs to be devoured.
Taste: This might be the most intangible aspect of writing, but has to do with drawing the reader in and helping them be invested in the characters. Have you ever read a book where the writing was brilliant but you just didn't care about the story? Or read a book where the writing was amateurish but you just couldn't put it down until you had read every last page? The best presentation in the world won't hook someone if the product tastes bad. Here is where you want to give interesting characters with depth who do the unexpected, have enough redeeming qualities to make you love them, and enough limitations, struggles and issues to make you root for them as they move through the story.
Creativity: Creativity is such an interesting one because it's sometimes hard to judge. The question to ask here is whether you bring something new to the table. In cooking, you might put together a salad (on old standby) but do it in a new and interesting way. The same is true of your writing. Is the writing fresh and original? Do you avoid cliched situations, characters and relationships? Do you have a fun new twist that will keep the reader guessing or surprise them?
Maybe I've just had Chopped on the mind, but I think the analogy works. All of these elements are important to great writing.So what do you think? How would you go about making your writing gourmet?