On Cheese and Writing.

I’m not talking about actual cheese here – though I did have a yummy grilled cheese sandwich this morning – but rather the things that make us go, “God that’s cheesy.” They’re a common occurrence in romance movies, though they do slip in occasionally in other kinds of movies; they’re not limited to sweet moments of unconditional love. A speech or a fighting scene or even a gory scene from a horror movie can be cheesy. But of course it’s not limited to movies, cheesiness is something that worries writers day and night.

While cheesiness in real life can be endearing and okay, for some reason it’s frowned upon in books. Even movies get cut some slack for some reason, while a book can be criticized heavily if deemed cheesy by the readers. But is that really fair?

You know, cheesy moments are not all that bad, especially those that make you go all warm and fuzzy inside. I like those. I’m always happy (and teary-eyed) watching a scene in a movie where one character does something sweet to the other. It’s nice. It’s happy. Sure sometimes it can be unrealistic and annoying and may get on your every last nerve, but other times it’s fine. I don’t mind reading cheese in books either as long as it’s tastefully done and isn’t out of character.

D’awww. (Source: xkcd)

There are two kinds of cheese: one that makes you gag (perhaps like blue cheese?) and one that you take pleasure in (maybe mozzarella or string cheese?). I have no interest in blue cheese; I think it’s annoying and stiff and way too unnatural. When you take a character and force them into something they’re not used to, the outcome won’t be pretty. But applying cheese to the right kind of person can create an endearing and heart-warming situation. As long as it’s not overdone and relatively realistic, there’s no reason why cheese shouldn’t be included.

I believe cheese gets criticized more in books because a reader gets to really explore every part of the characters’ world and so can immediately detect when something feels a bit more exaggerated or forced. However, when one watches a movie, they tend to get swept away with the music and the action, and as a result they don’t notice the little things anymore… at least not during the first viewing. It’s not really fair, but it’s understandable to some extent. Still I wish we could feel free to write some cheesy scenes without getting jumped at by critics. Novels help the reader escape to different worlds, and I think it’s okay if that different world is a little cheesy.

All this talk of cheese is making me want to grill some right now.

While we’re on the topic of cheese, my fiancĂ© and I once wrote poems to each other differentiating between edible cheese and metaphorical cheese. This is mine below:

Whether you be edible or metaphorical,
Whether you be sour or sickly sweet,
Whether you be full of holes or full of flattery,
You are glorious, Cheese.

When you are metaphorical, we think of tacky,
Tasteless pick-up lines, humourless sitcoms,
But we also think of little tummy butterflies,
Dorky phrases, amusing expressions of love,
“I would love to share my world with you.”
Cheesy, silly, hurl-you-out-of-the-room tacky,
“How was heaven when you left it?”
Sweet, simple, almost butter-like words,
“I love you so much.”

When you are edible, we think of yummy,
Mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches,
Sizzling away on the grill, oozing out of the sides,
But that doesn’t matter, because cheese everywhere,
Is probably the best way to have it.
Spread cheese, buttery cream cheese,
Smeared on warm toast, covered with jam,
We think of cheese cakes, which taste nothing like cheese,
But are quite delicious anyway.

With metaphorical, some make you horrible,
But others make you amazing,
Something one would want to hear over and over again,
It’s the same with edible cheese;
Mozzarella was a stroke of brilliance, but
Blue cheese was a bad idea, I’m afraid.

And you can read his here. We both wrote them at the same time and then swapped them. It was fun! We tend to be cheesy with each other, but we went an extra step there and differentiated between the two, haha.

How do you feel about cheese in movies and books? Does it turn your off, or does it amuse you? Can you pull off cheesy scenes in your own writing, or do you prefer to stay as far away as possible?

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20 thoughts on “On Cheese and Writing.

  1. Oh, pft. You could have at least included the entire comic! It’s leaving out so much.

    I think cheese is easier to get away with in movies and such because of the ambiance. With music in the background, body language and tone of voice, it’s easier to make it come across in a better way. With words it just comes across as a little herp derp because all you get is the text. They give you everything to work with in movies, and with books, all you get is your little mental narrator (who sometimes likes to reads cheesy scenes in a weird, mocking voice). >.>

  2. I think that sometimes cheese can ring true, because after all, life can be pretty cheesy sometimes. What I do hate is when characters have a conflict throughout the whole movie and then it is resolved in a two minute scene near the end where the characters have a heart to heart accompanied by dramatic music.

    • Agreed! Not only is that cheesy, but it is completely unrealistic. Makes it seem as if they were running out of material and just wanted to wrap everything up pretty quickly. =/

  3. I have been following both of your blogs for a few days only and already have smiled several times at the sweetness (or cheesiness) between you two. Love it!

  4. I’m easily amused by cheese. I’m guilty of writing some cheese into my books, but it usually revolves around the humorous moments. I ended one of my books with some groan-worthy cheese, but so far, everyone has laughed about it.

  5. If it’s a genuine life moment – and heaven knows my life can be cheesy – then I’ll leave it in for at least a draft, but otherwise I hose it down with a blow torch and toast that cheese.

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