Writing Guilty Pleasures

I love food—cooking, tasting, taking pictures (yep, I’m one of those people), and watching it prepared on the Food Network. So when my MC goes to eat a sandwich, it’s not just any sandwich. It’s a prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and arugula panini with a garlic fennel aioli.

Likewise, when I’m picking out an outfit for my MC or how her apartment is furnished, I have fun with it. She gets to wear fashionable skinny jeans with a v-neck blouse and midnight blue pumps. Her loft-style apartment is decorated with chic vases and candleholders a la Crate & Barrel.

And I just can’t wait until I get to take my MC on a vacation…Imagine what sort of research will go into that!

The details we sprinkle into our manuscripts not only add richness to our characters, they can also be incredibly fun. These are what I call guilty pleasures, but for writers, a chance for us to truly indulge.

Now, the catch is to not get so carried away writing about, say, that fabulous glass of wine and antipasto platter that it detracts from the main plot or feels unrealistic. However, a few key details sprinkled in can really make a manuscript sparkle.

These are opportunities to let our imaginations run wild, to give our characters their dream wardrobe, apartment, and/or vacation. After all, we put them through enough torture (hopefully); don’t they deserve something nice?

Writers, do you have any writing guilty pleasures? If so, what are they? Readers, are there details you especially enjoy reading about?


Author: Kate Lansing

I write mysteries, YA novels, and short fiction. I also read A LOT, travel as much as possible, and take way too many pictures of my cat.

12 thoughts on “Writing Guilty Pleasures”

  1. Wonderful blog. I love getting catalogs and magazines that help me visualize my characters’ lives. And the research, well, my books take place in the Florida Keys–nuff said.


  2. Okay, your first paragraph made my bagel and cream cheese look – inadequate. Like Kimberly, my characters are far more badass than I am. But they also get to live in a place I’d love to live – Laurel Highlands – and take advantage of all the natural adventuring. But now I’m thinking one of them has to prepare some kind of dinner – and I don’t mean just burgers and fries!


  3. HA! Such a fun post and a fun angle on this. I have a story I’ve been working on, and because I like modernist architecture and mid-century designs, I’ve got her living in just such a house with just such design. Oh, and I always sneak in references to some of my own favorite books. If my characters are reading, they’re always reading well. 🙂


  4. Suddenly, I’m starving. Kate, this is fantastic. 🙂

    Kimberly–YES! One of my MCs has a sophisticated taste in whiskey and a wicked right hook. I adore her.

    I dream of the day when I can afford to do location research, too. Kait has me frothing at the mouth over a Key West setting. The UK would be good (maybe not right now). Ireland. Sweden. Oh, dear. . .travel bug is biting!


  5. My guilty pleasure is setting. I love to read about a place, so that I can travel there vicariously. Those telling details make all the difference!


  6. What Art said–the books and authors my characters talk about!

    Also, I gave up coffee last year but one day, I was really craving one, so Lila got an enormous latte. #livingvicariously

    Nice post, Kate! The comments above are interesting too…


  7. Wow, thank you for all the fun comments! I’m LOVING reading about everyone’s guilty pleasures. It sounds like there are some very lucky characters out there with fabulous houses, book collections, desserts, and spunky attitudes! Love love love 🙂


  8. My guilty pleasure is , of course, reading what you all write. I guard my reading time and try not to let outside things come between my and my books. I especially like books with well defined characters who are REAL, people with flaws perhaps but with focus, purpose, and sense of reality. I hate, hate, hate, brainless, silly, superficial characters. I see way too many of them in real life to find them entertaining in books. I find reading a respite from the hectic day-to-day activities, and OK I’ll admit it, I sometimes fall asleep while reading. In fact, sometimes my husband creeps past quietly ( well sort of quietly) so as not to wake me. (I’m usually awake, just quietly reading.) He has threatened that when I die he will prop a book up in front of me in the casket and no one will know the difference.


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