Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Taste Test Your Writing

One thing that sticks out to me when watching the chefs on those shows is that they always taste their food before sending it out to whoever is going to eat and judge it. They might adjust the seasoning, add a bit more sauce, or even wipe the edges of the plate clean!
Isn't that what we want from our young writers when it comes to the editing step of the writing process?
I've started using this chef analogy with my students when we are working on our editing. First I talk to students about how important it is for a chef to know exactly what she is serving to her customer. To do this she must taste test her food. The last thing a chef would want is to send a plate of food to a customer with no idea if it tastes good or not. She may think it's delicious, but by taste-testing it, she can make sure it is just right.
 Then I tell students just how similar this is to editing our writing. We might think our story makes perfect sense and is correct in every way, but how do we know for sure unless we taste test our writing--we need to reread it and edit! Does every single word and sentence make sense? How about our capital letters, endmarks, and spelling?  

Now here's an analogy I would not have thought of, especially since I don't sit around watching Top Chef or other cooking shows, though I do enjoy participating in the cooking class at work (and leading the class at least once a month). But I like the analogy to cooking, because looking for misspelled, missing or repeated words always necessary when editing your work. Also looking for necessary words you may have left out, and making sure sentences are capitalized and punctuated properly at the end. 

In general, I think the taste analogy to writing is an apt one in that writing can be like cooking. Cooking sometimes means gathering up ingredients you have on hand to create a dish. Similarly, with writing you can gather up a bunch of different words (from say a dictionary, or written down on paper then picked at random) to create a story, or create a story based on images or phrases you find in books, online, etc. These are some ways to begin writing when you are stuck for other ideas. 

However you begin writing or cooking, eventually you will be seeing how it tastes to you and decide how to "season to taste" your work. Removing or adding words to your work is the "seasoning."


  1. A clever analogy. And close to the mark. Particularly when you consider that taste is such a subjective thing. What one person adores just doesn't suit another.

  2. I love this analogy! I also think getting feed back from beta readers is a good way to 'taste test';)