Vignettes are brief glimpses into your world. Like photographs or paintings they capture small moments in time and preserve them for future review. They are also an excellent way to give yourself (and potentially your readers) a feeling for your world.
You can either write these vignettes entirely for yourself or incorporate them into your larger manuscript. The choice is yours. If you craft them with care and a strong attention to detail vignettes can be a very useful tool.
In this post my vignettes are going to focus on food. Food is universal because everyone, everywhere across time and space needs to eat. Food is cultural, in that it is a vehicle that is both steeped in tradition and constantly evolving to meet our modern needs. Food is also very personal, in that each person has dishes they like and dislike for various reasons. Food is also a very social item, bringing people together and establishing in-groups. You eat lunch with your friends, not your enemies. You have dinner with your family, not with strangers. To eat alone is an isolating experience, especially when you are surrounded by groups of people who are eating together. Food is also a vehicle for social norms. Jewish and Muslim individuals define themselves, in part, by what foods they eat, how those foods are prepared and what other foods those foods can be paired with. Christians, in part, define themselves by ignoring the food-related rules of their Jewish predecessors. Vegetarians do not eat meat, vegans do not eat any animal products (including meat, eggs, dairy or honey).
My undergraduate degree is in Anthropology, and anthropologists LOVE to talk about food. Food offers tremendous insight, and it is delicious.
In this post I am going to include links to three examples I have written: One takes place in a fantasy, medieval setting. One takes place in a futuristic science fiction setting and one takes place over brunch.