Chocolate and the Craft of Writing – Drinking Chocolate and Setting

When I first started writing, Falling in Love with Emma, I’m sure it was a “dark and stormy night,” because I thought about the French-style of drinking chocolate…a lot. Spoiler alert. It’s a typical fall day in Seattle, and I’ve just brewed a warm cup of drinking chocolate. Yum! Anyway, back to the blog.

In my story, I transported Emma and Bjorn back in time to 18th century Paris, on the eve of the French Revolution, where chocolate houses were almost as abundant as coffee cafés are in Seattle today. For those who have read my books, they know that somewhere in the story, someone will mention their love of chocolate. But Falling in Love with Emma took on a whole new level. Although I knew the time and place, I wanted my readers to experience the atmosphere, or setting.

Your setting is as important as your characters. After all, the setting affects how the characters react and move through the story. To see this in action all you have to do is watch a disaster movie. Without the fire, wind or snow storm, the story wouldn’t be the same. Setting can enhance a character’s mood, or bring them down. Setting can also help a character achieve their goal, or stand in the way.

As I mentioned, the idea of setting as a character is never more apparent than in a disaster movie, involving fire, wind, or rain. There is a movie, Backdraft, with fire fighter, Kurt Russell, where he and his brother refer to fire as though it were a living, breathing, entity, unpredictable and capable of seeking revenge. This makes fighting fires feel even more dangerous.

On the lighter side, the movie Chocolate, with Johnny Depp, not only makes the symbol of chocolate a main character, but this confection, changes in appearance and brings people together. Check out this movie and see for yourself.

When you describe a setting, you must always ask this question. How does it move the story forward? If you describe the wind or rain, it can’t be just because it sounds cool, there has to be a reason why it’s raining. How does your character respond to rain? Will her response help or hinder her as she tries to move forward?

If you have ever tasted the French-style of drinking chocolate it is an event. It is so rich and so thick that you are tempted to use a spoon. Drinking chocolate reminds me of setting because when you layer setting into your story, it is the opportunity for your character (and thus your reader) to slow down and savor the moment.

I have listed the recipe for drinking chocolate below and please check out book three in the Matchmaker Café series, Falling in Love with Emma and let me know what you think.

French-style Drinking Chocolate
2 cups whole milk (cream is really the best)
5 ounces or more of dark chocolate, chopped.
Optional – light brown sugar or honey
Optional – dash of chili powder as was mentioned in the movie Chocolate

Heat the milk or cream in a sauce pan. Once it is warm, whisk in the chocolate, stirring until melted and steaming hot. Taste, and add brown sugar, honey or chili. You can add a whipped cream if you like.

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