Everyone’s Always in the Kitchen At Parties

Okay, so not just parties. In the process of editing and I’ve discovered that in every one of my mss there is always a scene where one or the other of the characters is in the kitchen making coffee. I have no idea why. No, actually, I do: it’s the old ‘let’s have a conversation about our conflict’ kind of stuff and so they have to be doing something while they’re having this conversation. But for some reason these scenes are always in the kitchen and during the course of it one of the characters is making a hot drink. But why? Why the kitchen? Why coffee and not tea? Why a hot drink? Why not make food instead?

It’s probably a custom thing. Whenever my h & h eventually get to go to one another’s houses, offering a hot drink is the socially done thing. And since I don’t drink tea, it’s usually coffee. Plus, coffee gives the character something to do, grinding beans etc (especially the hero – coffee is a more manly type of drink, especially when he gets to fiddle with a gleaming, stainless steel espresso machine. Ha ha.) . But still, it’s weird. This wip for example, the heroine is staying with the hero and so what does he do as soon as she arrives? Heads straight to the kitchen and goes to make coffee! Why doesn’t he whip her up a souffle or something?

I really should break out and do something more radical with my dialogue scenes. At our last conference, I went to a workshop about setting scenes and about how lots of people seemed to set their dialogue in kitchens. It was suggested to try another location for interest’s sake. Such as a wind tunnel. Or a mountain side. Or a boat. The problem I have with that is that kitchens/restaurants etc are the places where people normally have conversations like this. Especially deep and meaningful ones. And if you’re writing Modern Heat most of the time your characters won’t be in wind tunnels or mountain sides, and if they are, they’re probably doing much more important stuff than talking about their conflict!

Seriously though, I should be a bit different with my scene setting. What about everyone else? What’s the most unusual location you’ve set a scene in?

18 thoughts on “Everyone’s Always in the Kitchen At Parties”

  1. LOL – Mine aren’t coffee drinkers – even though I am a massive one – funny that – I’m always getting them drinking wine, but only one glass – they aren’t lushes.

    Most unusual…mmm…you know about my opening scene of my latest ms – they are on a footbridge and my heroine has her heel stuck between the planks – does that count?

  2. Jackie, I’m with you on the Kitchen scene. Big fan of it : – )

    For me it’s all about what I can do with it. In my current wip, I’ve squeezed out as much as I could- the drink is offered as an after thought as the heroine is busy battling her inner conflict (she’s also being evasive). The dialogue that follows reveals stuff about them, the actual making of the drinks builds up the sexual tension between them and the hero doesn’t miss the opportunity to throw in a few insinuations…So far, they’ve indulged quite a bit. In fact, there’s so much coffee drinking I have my heroine suggesting they have camomile or peppermint tea to calm down! As for wine… I’m a bit concerned as I’ve added their sips and… it’s no wonder they’re in need of coffee (Irish coffee for the H to boot).

  3. Having spent my fair share of time with my heel stuck between the planks (they’re out to get me) I’m fascinated by Janette’s idea :D. I think it is the culture thing. We’ve got a kitchen fetish :D.

  4. Strangest place I’ve set a scene? Hmmm…I’ve had some sex scenes in odd locations. But hey, that makes it more fun. Waterfalls, poolside, the beach in the rain…water fetish? Maybe.

    As far as repetition, I noticed my characters always dance. Which is hilarious, since, while I do drink copious amounts of coffee, I do NOT dance. But, lo and behold, often right before they get it on, my H and h slow dance in a restaurant or at a wedding or in a bar.

    Also, usually a scene on a private plane. Lots of traveling in my MSs. like road trip movies or something…okay, not quite.

    My characters usually drink coffee and talk at some point I think, or wine, which is also funny since I don’t drink alcohol. Never even tried it so I always laugh a little when I have to describe a drink…

  5. Veronica – Lol! Too much coffee! Yep, I can relate to that.

    Lacey – yes, indeed. Now what I want to know is why??

    Maisey – that’s great! That’s like your signature move. Dance, then a plane trip, then some coffee? Oh and then some time at a waterfall! Mine would be coffee, then a restaurant, then some more quality time in the kitchen. Ha! Think I’d rather read yours. Alcohol? Well, I’m partial to a chocolate martini and bubbles myself. It’s not good for you buy hey, gotta have a couple of vices. 😉

    Lucy – Yes! That’s exactly my scene! Great minds clearly think alike. 🙂

  6. Jackie —

    YOu might want to read Donald Maass on the subject of tension. The problem with kitchen scenes, even though the kitchen is often the heart of the home is that drinking scenes are notoriously low tension. YOu need to make certain that the tension is absolutely sky high at that point or the scene has to be cut.

    I have done lots of strange settings. But it is not the settign that is the point, it is the makign certain that the scne moves the story forward and that the tension and CONFLICT is there.

  7. Actually, that’s a really good point, Michelle. My kitchen scenes to date have dealt with the essential conflict but I can see a dinner scene which is comfy cosy but not so tension-filled. More of a ‘let me tell you about me’ kind of thing. Hmmm. Shall have to revisit that.

  8. The most unusual place I’ve had my characters indulge in serious ocnflict talk was in a hot air balloon.

    But your talk about mountain sides did get me thinking. Earlier this year, in “Last-Minute Proposal” (Harlequin Romance) Jessica Hart had her hero and heroine get to know one another while climbing a mountain. Not a coffee cup in sight, though I think the heroine did spend a fair portion of that scene dreaming of a steaming cup of coffee.

  9. Hey Jackie, you’re so funny. I think despite what we might want our books have some reflection of ourselves, so if that’s where you have the deep and meaningfuls…. Anway, I don’t cook; never had, have no interest in doing so and hope like heck I never have to. Consequently, I have never written a book where I have a scene in a kitchen. Kinda weird now I think about it because everyone needs to go in there at some point. Right? I tend to have my characters in action or flux or in the process of doing – something. The weirdest setting? I’m not sure I have weird or strange so much but in my current WIP my H & H disclose some of their feelings for each other while he’s replacing her front door. Guess, he figured it wasn’t secure enough based on the neighborhood in what she lived! She wasn’t impressed.

  10. Romy – There is actually a mountain side scene? Lol! Definitely I need to break out.

    Kaily – Oddly enough, I don’t much like cooking either. Maybe that’s why my characters don’t make each other food! Replacing the front door huh? Sounds like the hero of my wip! 🙂

  11. Hi Jackie. Another thought provoking post. Thanks – must re-visit my ms’s and see where the key scenes are! At the moment I’m writing “Romans” so I can cheat on the unusual settings bit- I’ve had good scenes (if you get my drift) with wet H/h in the steam baths! Take care. Caroline x

  12. Coming in late here, but such a great discussion! I’m trying to think if there’s a coffee/kitchen scene in my current wip. Actually my h&H joke about coffee but indulge in something else entirely *wink wink nudge nudge*.

    I think if I do have these scenes, they’re ALWAYS in the middle – the section I’m currently tearing my hair out over at the moment!

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