Stay out of the Kitchen

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I've been skimming the workbook, "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Donald Maas, hoping to glean a few writing tips from it, which I am, and I came across a part where he advised authors not to write kitchen scenes.

He says (and I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the book in front of me) they're boring, nothing happens in them, and they don't develop the story at all. If you do have to use them, you're supposed to add action or some big major plot twist, lots of tension, or something to make it worth a reader's while.

Curious if I messed up and wrote a kitchen scene (or two), I thought back to my three stories I have coming out in the future, and you know what...all THREE of them have scenes that take place in the kitchen. Sigh. Guess I'm just a typical kitchen-scene author.

In The Right to Remain Mine (coming in Feb), the heroine learns the heroes first name in a kitchen scene, then an intruder breaks into her house, which starts a physical brawl in another kitchen scene. Actually, there were a bunch of scenes that took place in the kitchen in that book. Hmm. I'm all confused if they were worthwhile scenes though.

In The Best Mistake (coming in March), the heroine realizes the hero is actually the owner of the company where she works in their kitchen scene. It seemed like a big, revealing moment to me. Hopefully it's not something that should've been deleted because I've already finished editing the final round in that book.

The Color of Grace (who knows when that is coming out) has a handful of kitchen scenes as well. But I personally felt like I needed those because they showed the growing tension between Grace and her mother.

Maas's writing advice really makes you look at your story though. I swear I went through every kitchen scene I've ever written, and more times than not, I realized they really didn't need to be in the story. It just felt like filler that stalled out the plot and went nowhere.

Do you have kitchen scenes in your book? Do they really need to be there? Or can you jazz them up so that the scene is integral for the plot of your story?

It's something to think about anyway.


  1. No kitchen scene in Fated Mates but I do have a scene where the characters are eating breakfast in Irish Rising. Does that count?

  2. I've had a few kitchen scenes and I've read some hot kitchen scenes. I'm up in the air whether I believe this. :)


  3. Yeah, he even said in his book that some author (can't remember who it was) followed him around a convention, arguing this point. So I could see it being quite the subjective matter!

  4. Yeah, I do. LOL I think what he should've said is don't have scenes with no tension. A kitchen scene is fine as long as there's conflict brewing and things changing.

  5. He'd also probably advise me to stop using double negatives. *grin*

  6. Oh my goodness, I've got kitchen scenes too--in Forever Faithful, Investment of the Heart, and My Heart Will Find Yours. Now, in MHWFY, the heroine is transported back in time and has to learn to cook on a wood stove. Actually, she has to learn to cook as is used to take-out.

    Interesting post, Linda. I've been meaning to check out this book. Guess I better hurry up.


  7. No kitchen scenes in Arbor U until books #13 and #14...and yes, a lot of needed dialogue is in them (imho, anyway!)

    Kenzie has a few in Teacher's Pet, but the heroine is a busy mom whose kitchen is where she speaks with her kids the most! And who says you can't have a heart-to-heart over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table?