Here are some pro-food writing tips from my friends from Writer's Block Philippines:
How do you cross over from being a passionate foodie to a credible and published food writer? Try these tips from the writing experts:
1. Select an interesting subject that has not yet been featured in other websites or magazines
Food features can be more than just about food. Aside from the food itself, other possible features may include new restaurants, chefs, and recipes. Just make sure that the topic is unique or that’s you’re presenting it in a different angle.
For instance, when writing about family recipes (sometimes called “heirloom recipes”), mention its unique history, what makes the family behind it special, any unique innovations that have been passed on through the generations, and so on. Magazine editors value writers who can present ideas from a perspective that sets the publication apart from the rest of the pack.
2. Practice your keen observation skills
Use all your senses when describing the food.
How’s was the dish presented?
How does it taste—too sweet maybe or a bit salty?
What flavors and aromas does it remind you of?
What is its texture?
Describe all these in a way that make the dishes come alive, such as “its sweet, nutty taste and earthy, organic texture made one feel closer to nature.”
Describe its “star ingredients” and what makes the dish special–especially if it’s a popular or well-loved dish such as adobo, sinigang, paella, pasta, or steak.
Be very detailed when you explain your eating experience so your reader would want to experience it, too.
3. Accentuate the positive
Doing a restaurant review could be a bit tricky if you’re not happy with your dining experience. As much as possible, focus on the positive aspect of the food or place when writing a review. If something is not to your liking, say it in a nice way—in the form of constructive criticism. A bad review is not worth the time and effort you’ll put into it, not to mention the space you need to allot for it. Also, editors might be uneasy publishing a piece that reads more like glorified bashing.
4. Take good photos
Make your feature more enticing by accompanying it with fantastic photos that will highlight the dishes or places in your piece. Don’t be afraid to take tight (close-up) shots that show the unique details of a dish. Take time going around the restaurant to look for interesting angles and action shots of the staff. Food features need this visual accompaniment to make the dishes seem more mouth-watering.
5. Don’t limit yourself to writing for food magazines
Almost all lifestyle magazines, including lifestyle sections of newspapers or online lifestyle portals, feature food sections that show the latest in dining and the culinary arts. Also try general interest lifestyle magazines or online e-zines such as Spot.ph which has regular travel features on new and quirky food discoveries: “Where to find the top 10 best leche flan.”
6. Go beyond the expected
There is so much to write about food and the experiences that come with it. Don’t limit yourself to the usual eating and cooking experience. In some cultures, eating is a bonding activity. With couples, eating together is an expression of intimacy. And to many people, eating certain food brings a sense of security or comfort. Bring out feelings like this in your piece and you’ll be one step closer to writing a piece that’s as unique and as personal as your dining experience.
Discover more tips on how to be a successful writer and even earn some cash in between bites by signing up for “Eat, Write, Love”, a food-writing workshop by Writer’s Block Philippines.
The workshop runs on October 16, Saturday, at Adarna Food and Culture. It features lectures by popular food writer Lori Baltazar of Dessertcomesfirst.com, Adarna Executive Chef Giney Villar, and the resident writing experts of Writer’s Block Philippines.
To register, visit www.writersblockphilippines.com or call/text (0927) 850 8280.