A Scene in New Hampshire

ALLISON: What did you write about in your story, Cole?

COLE: Do you mean in terms of plot? Because plot isn’t always the most important thing.

ALLISON: Well, that’s true. What I’ve been telling the class this week is about characters. You should know everything about your characters, down to their favorite food. What’s your main character’s favorite food?

COLE: Fish skins in gravy.

ALLISON: Well…

COLE:  Earphone felt. It doesn’t matter. Corn cobs razed clean of kernels beforehand. Why would your character’s favorite food be important? The only reason it would be is if it implies something vital about their internal self, like if they’re a cannibal.

ALLISON: That’s an interesting thought. Let’s move on to-

COLE: If he was a cannibal, you would have found a more interesting way to reveal that major aspect of his life before you brought up what his favorite food is, so it wouldn’t matter.

ALLISON: (Sigh) I suppose, Cole.

COLE: Unless you were waiting to reveal his cannibalism because the twist was central to the story, in which case you better have a more important way to show it than his favorite food, so it still doesn’t matter.

ALLISON: Shall we move on?

COLE: So when you think about it, “You should know your character’s favorite food” is reductive tripe mass-fed to talent-less dabblers because it falsely implies some deep understanding of fiction planning. Allison, you didn’t know any better than to toss it out because your being tapped to teach this class has nothing to do with any insight or ability on your own part.

ALLISON: Go to the office, Cole. Just go to the office.

COLE: (walking out of the door) Dilettante.

ALLISON: I swear, you are the worst 5th grader.

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