|Phil drinking again|
Let’s make a toast to Groundhog Day in America, that crazy pseudo-holiday celebrating the now-infamous Punxsutawney Phil thanks to the 1993 movie of the same name. By the time the media has enjoyed its usual fun with the day, we’ll all want another drink, won’t we? Including Phil.
Can you tell this isn't my favorite celebration? Indeed, I can only say two good things about Groundhog Day. 1. It signals the halfway point between winter solstice and vernal equinox and 2. it commemorates one of my favorite drinks, sweet vermouth over crushed ice with a twist of lemon.
This is the German version of a martini, and I grew up with my adult relatives sipping it as an aperitif during the summer. It’s a flowery, sweet wine with a little bitter after-bite from wormwood, the herb that also is the foundation for absinthe.
My protagonist, Megan MacGregor, likes this unusual drink, perhaps because it reflects her sweet but strong feminine nature. She and her hero, J. Lindsey Calhoun, have a good-natured ongoing argument about her lack of Scottish sensibilities. He, of course, is an avowed scotch drinker, and quite an expert on the best varieties. At the family law firm, the high-powered offices of Calhoun & Sons, you’ll always find a crystal decanter of The Dalmore on the conference room credenza, to toast yet another successful winning trial or seal a lucrative legal contract.
We can tell a lot about people by what they drink, and when they drink. In writing fiction, it’s a way of showing rather than telling us about a character. Let’s envision some of the positive characteristics associated with drinking:
· It can depict a partying spirit
· It can show culinary taste
· It can create ethnic identity
· It can be a sign of prestige
· It can define rituals
· It can display traditions
· It can even be a business in a story, as a brewery
Of course, fiction often depicts the dark side of alcohol as well:
· It is used as an emotional or physical painkiller
· It is the cause of accidents
· It is a vehicle leading to abuse of others
· It is detrimental to physical health
Any of these scenarios can (and have been) used to show the actions of characters as well as incidents to drive a plot. We draw conclusions about people through their association with drink, and not just alcoholic beverages. One of my novel characters drinks only water and that fact alone probably has you speculating as to what kind of person he is. What is behind that choice? Health reasons? Religious practice? Perhaps something darker? A simple libation can become the basis for mutuality, or a reason to strongly dislike someone. These are ideas to think about when building your characters and your plots.
So what is your daily regular drink? What do you drink to celebrate? And your main character? What would you order for them at a tavern? Do you share these details in your writing? Why or why not? Leave us a comment and we’ll discuss it.
Here’s lifting a wee dram of Laphroaig to you, my friends! I drink it to better understand my novel hero (really) and to survive yet another Groundhog Day (really really).
|Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil blog and is mostly up to no good as she works on her murder mystery novel. You can connect with her at News From Nowhere, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.|