Sep 042013
 

Just thought I’d get your attention. These are pastries from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.

A while ago I decided to start sharing links from my quarterly newsletter.

The post was so successful, ricocheting around Twitter and Facebook, that I’ve decided to post a list after each newsletter comes out.

So, in the meantime, sign up for the Will Write for Food newsletter. You’ll get only four emails per year, with the next one at the end of September. It’s filled with useful info for food Continue reading »

Aug 272013
 

Cooking is about action, and that should come across vigorously in your recipe writing.

Last week I aroused passions about passive voice in recipes, not only here in the comments but on Facebook and Twitter.

My point was that cooking is an activity, so we need direct language that shows action. Active verbs are the ticket, an effective and efficient way to show movement.

In these examples below, you won’t find a whiff of passive voice. There is also no use of “you,” which some readers found objectionable. Others pointed out that active verbs are imperative, where the writer commands readers to action by implication. (Haven’t you always wanted to command?)

I plucked these examples from my bookshelf. Note how many verbs writers crams into a paragraph. It’s like watching a movie, sports event or ballet:

1. Julia Child

Scoop (peppers) into mixing bowl. Spread both sides of the bread with Continue reading »

Aug 202013
 

Passive voice would mean writing something like “the melon slices, quartered figs and goat cheese are added to the salad.” Why isn’t the person doing the action identified? After all, it will be you.

In every writing class or book about writing, it says: Avoid passive voice. (Passive voice is when you don’t identify the person or thing doing the action. It’s considered lazy and imprecise, everything that recipe writing is not.)

I do my best to remove it when I edit. Yet I read dozens of published recipe instructions like this in Continue reading »

Aug 132013
 

Author and and television personality Joanne Weir tells you how she works the audience into buying her latest cookbook.

A guest post by Joanne Weir

I’ve been really lucky with book sales and people often say “Oh, I forgot that you always sell a lot of books.” I want you to know that it took me a while to get the hang of selling books, but I do have a few pointers that work for me:

1. I hold the book in my arms the whole time, with the title facing out, and I Continue reading »

Jul 302013
 

A freelance writer I’m working with is hesitating about starting a food blog. She thinks maybe it’s too late. There are so many food blogs now, she said. Maybe she could never catch up or get noticed.

She compared herself to successful food bloggers who started long ago, and wondered if she should bother.

I told her that it was normal to think that way, but no good can come of comparing. When I start thinking like that, I say a little mantra that helps me:

“Some people are not doing as well as I am. Some people are doing better. I’m somewhere in the middle and I am okay with that.”

I thought it applied in this case, because if you only compare yourself to Continue reading »

Jul 232013
 

Virginia Willis does a lot of jobs simultaneously to pay the bills, and because she prefers it that way. (Photo by Angie Mosier)

A guest post by Virginia Willis

A few years ago there was a great outcry when Food52’s Amanda Hesser wrote that she wouldn’t advise any one to become a food writer. At the time I disagreed, but now I find that she has a point.

To be successful as a food writer, I wear many hats. Sometimes, I do work outside food writing because I enjoy it. Sometimes that work is more lucrative. Regardless, all these hats create massive scheduling and financial challenges, but also diversity and stimulation. My small business can be feast or famine, but the jobs are tightly intertwined and I cannot imagine it any other way.

The deal is, it’s just not enough to be a food writer, even a successful one. We may not be starving artists, but very few writers are financially successful.

Here’s what I do as a food writer. It’s a lot but it’s not enough:

1. Cookbook author. My two cookbooks have received much acclaim and even some awards. Using the language of Publishers Lunch, my advances have been Continue reading »