Wednesday, May 18, 2016

It's all about Denny's

Yup- the restaurant. Now, stick with me, this makes sense really. And once we talk about it, you'll see it could really be about anything or anyplace.

I drive by a Denny's on my way to and from the day job. Usually, I don't even notice it, but this most recent trip home I was stuck at the light and found myself contemplating the banners for $2, $4, $6- etc menu price points they have.

Which got me thinking about the restaurant itself. Rather, the way people view it.

To some, a Denny's is just an example of mediocre food, something to be sped past on the freeway. But what if you've been driving for a day or so, and it's the first restaurant you see?  What if you're homeless and just got enough money for your first hot meal in weeks?

How would the person who grew up going to that Denny's every Friday and Saturday night in their youth after watching friends bands' play at clubs see it?

The person who worked at one while putting themselves through college?

The popular foodie who secretly likes their Moons Over My Hammy, but can't let anyone know?

All of those scenarios, and pretty much any others you can come up with, are about the SAME restaurant. How it's viewed by people- aka our characters- is completely based on their emotional reaction to it. Not the place itself.

Someone who went there every Sunday evening with their favorite great Aunt is going to have a flood of emotions hitting them the first time they step through the door after their great Aunt has passed away. Do they go back with new friends?  Alone?  Never go back?  Their reaction to the place and way they approach it tell the reader a ton about that character--even if it's not something the reader can isolate. The reader feels it.

A character's reaction to something everyday in their world can be a powerful tool to show different aspects of a character, and slip in bits about their past without beating a reader over the head with it.

So look around your world when you're writing--find the Denny's--find the emotion that can connect your reader to your character.

(for the record--I think they have very decent breakfasts and yes, spent a lot of time in them after the clubs closed  ;)).


  1. I spent many a night at Denny's in my youth. It was always my group's go-to restaurant, and while I seldom go there now, I always think of it fondly.

    Love your take on this post!

  2. Deb and I still go there about once a month, for our breakfast-and-a-movie Saturday morning. We enjoy the pancakes and hashbrowns, the movie and the popcorn, and miss Cathy.

    1. I'm glad you still have your tradition and that Cathy is still a part of that. I think she'd be happy.

  3. Hey, I like Denny's. Spent many a night after the clubs closed and the gear was packed up, just needed something to eat. Let's be reasonable, the food is good ;)

    But you are right, one place viewed by many different people will all have different viewpoints. I like it!

    1. Thanks! I think it's easy for us as writers to miss easy ways to show character- this is a handy one ;).

  4. The local Denny's has been very much a part of our lives for decades!Spent many evenings with different groups of friends...years later it became a family tradition for hubby and son to go for breakfast one morning when he would come home to visit...when the grandson got a little older it became the guy's sister and I like to go for breakfast every few weeks (I love the $4 value meal! 2 slices of crisp bacon, two scrambled eggs, and 2 pancakes..just the right amount!) There are folks working there who have been there for decades and we greet each other like old friends!

  5. I recall spending some late nights at Denny's after everything else in town closed up. Good memories, and I love their breakfasts.

  6. You're right. How a character reacts to everyday things says a lot about them. Hates the color red because... it reminds him of his dead loves hair...or blood...or the rose given to a certain girl which was crushed before his eyes. Even something as mundane as color could speak volumes about a character.
    Good post, Marie,