Coffee has so many roles. Too many maybe. As I sit outside and drink a nice warm cup in the brisk early autumn morning air.
I was watching sitcoms last night – a horrible pass time but one I can do while walking and rocking a sleepy cranky baby – plus there is almost never anything beneficial on tv. But this post is not a complaint about the tv line-up, it is about coffee in our writing.
In both shows that I watched, the actors spent a lot of time sitting around drinking coffee and chatting, telling jokes that we should laugh at. I wasn’t doing much of that, and it got me thinking – why this background for chatter? How about us, as fiction writers, do we use this background often? And what about the shows that actually make me laugh (namely Modern Family and Big Bang Theory) how much time do they spend drinking coffee on-screen? After all, a good script is the basis for a good sitcom, and writing is writing!
My WIP has tea drinking going on, and one lady from France who adores chocolat chaud, alternatives to coffee. Are these scenes painful info dumps with hot beverages as leverage? I hope not, and I’ve worked hard to ensure my writing does not contain info dumps….but sometimes these things sneak by us…
In my own writing I have noticed that info squeezed in through dialogue is essentially an outline. A note to self about what I wish to write about, not the actual writing itself. This usually occurs in first draft stage, but as the time has gone on and I’ve been writing for longer I have done this less and less often.
When I have a scene with drinking coffee or eating it must be for a purpose, not just for a convenient chat. In one scene that I can think of my MC is having a picnic with her maid, as a result of accompanying the household on a harvest. She ends up having a bonding moment with her maid and learns that her maid has been trained as a midwife as well. So, we have food and a chat, but I think it’s a natural progression, with a cause and a result.
Food and beverage is important I believe in fiction. It does a lot: sets period, mood, character identification, etc, but I’m worried now that drinking coffee is going to become like the barking dog in the last post – just a backdrop.
What do you think?
Do you struggle with avoiding info dumps through convenient dialogue?