• Jessica Sherry

The Lunchbox: Character Development

What does your MC pack for lunch? Though it may not seem to be a BIG or important question about your character, it could be a revealing one. And, at least, it's something fun and different to think about that might spark other ideas.


The best example I can think of where packed lunches reveal characters is the classic movie The Breakfast Club. Five teens are stuck together for a Saturday detention--a simple premise that inspires a funny, but touching look at teen angst and the social hierarchy of high school. If you haven't seen it, you must, must, must. While you're at it, add all of John Hughes' impressive movies to your must-see list. You won't regret it.


But, I digress... back to lunches.


In the movie, each character brings a lunch that reveals a lot about them. Claire's gourmet sushi meal, complete with chopsticks and dipping sauce, looks elegant when juxtaposed with Allison's crushed up cereal sandwich and straws filled with sugar. Nerd, Brian has the perfect Mom-packed lunch while his foil, the bad boy John Bender, doesn't have anything but cigarettes. Andrew, the jock, amuses everyone with his grocery bag lunch, which carries enough food for the entire room--he's in training.


Hungry yet? :)


You can make little details reveal big things about your characters, too. Here's a list of questions you can ask about your character's lunch habits:


  • What foods does he enjoy?

  • Does he pack it himself?

  • Where does he eat it? At his desk? In the park? In his car? On the roof, staring over the edge? In an alley? In a stairwell? Or the bathroom? Yikes.

  • Does he remember a napkin? Hand sanitizer? Utensils?

  • Does he share his Cheetos with others?

  • Does he hover over it while he eats, like an animal with its prey?

  • What does he carry it in?

  • Is he conscious of recycling?

  • What is his main motivation to pack his lunch? To save time? To save money? To have it his way? To spend lunch gossiping in the break room? To have an excuse to sit next to the pretty lady in the park? To get away from his desk?

  • Does he prep it at night or in the morning?

  • What would happen if he forgot it? Lost it? Ruined it somehow?


Yeah, I know. It's such a simple thing. But little details stand out. I remember my Annie lunchbox and the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or chicken noodle soup my Mom packed for me. What about you?

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