coffee shop rule

My editor reminded me this week about the coffee shop rule. You can have a conversation in a coffee shop, but only one per book unless it’s a reoccurring, fully realized setting that is so developed it’s almost a character in itself. Yep, I got lazy.

So-o-o-o-o I took my licks with the wet noodle and then spent the night mulling where I might shift the scene to. I even made the mistake of asking my loved ones for their advice–which is a bad idea because they all think their first idea is the best and stop looking after they come up with it. Even worse, they feel hurt when you shoot it down for a reason that makes no sense to them even when you explain why a museum or bowling alley or bookshop won’t work. (sorry, guys)

Mulling in the back of the mind isn’t always a fast prospect, but I’ve gotten better at it, and dude, there’s nothing like the feeling of sitting at your desk at 7:30 am, gritting your teeth in the knowledge that a big chunk of the fun stuff you’ve spent the last month adding is a lot of tell, not show (because of page constraints) and the almost magical realization that maybe you can bring one of those tells into the show with the right new chapter setting, and THEN realizing there’s the potential here to use that show to flesh out the relationship between the two characters in exactly the right way–one scene shift solving an issue of show don’t tell, character development, world building, and yes, not breaking the one-coffee shop rule and making my editor and me happy.

Yeah, that thing.




Filed under Drama Box

22 responses to “coffee shop rule

  1. Now if your char works at the coffee shop you can keep going back to the shop right?

  2. Mark Dossetor

    Thanks Kim – I have to get back to my writing after day job & life (not to mention laziness πŸ˜•) have got in the way for a while

  3. Jeanyssa

    I always find it so fascinating to hear what kind of processes you go though to produce these amazing worlds in books. I can literally get lost for hours in one of your books! I can hardly wait to meet Peri and explore her world. So, for the time being, I pacify myself with rereading the Rachel Morgan series over again from the start. =)

  4. Is that why Rachel didn’t get to go to Jr’s very much? That was actually a tiny source of frustration for me, as much as she liked coffee I expected her to be there a lot more frequently than she was. (I ended up chalking it up to her see-saw finances) I mean, she should at least have had Jr’s cups lying around in her convertible. ;D (ahem, I mean, I don’t have a problem with cups. Nope. There is no scrambling to collect and throw them away if I am picking someone up. Not me…) But now it makes sense if it is some bizarre writing taboo.

  5. I usually write in the morning before work and in the evening when I come home. So I was excited to have the day off yesterday to write. However, near the end of the day I found myself wrestling with this very issue. I wandered around the house talking to family – trying to explain what I needed. I came to the same conclusion, and wandered back to my office.
    I understand family and friends can be supportive, but in the end writing is something I have to do.
    How do you decide when to contact a writing friend to have a sounding board or discuss ideas?

  6. I do not understand that rule! Why not? Take it to the pub – or my favorite – the riding stable!

    • Once is fine. Many times is fine if it’s the same place. Stoping at a coffee shop to have an info dump conversation over and over is a problem.

  7. Vampyre

    What if one of the characters works at/owns a coffee shop?

    Then there are people like me, that do not like coffee.

  8. David Rheuark

    Do we reflect the reality in the other world? Does that world need all or part of us to function?

  9. amiegibbons15

    This is the first I’m hearing of this rule. Does this one per book rule also apply to bar/restaurant conversations? I may have to give my girls something to do after work besides drink, like… Hm, what else do people do after work? πŸ™‚

  10. Martin

    Junior’s was like a fully developed character. The Hollows wouldn’t have been the Hollows if they didn’t go to Junior’s. πŸ™‚

  11. silvermitt

    What about a lake/river/ocean side boardwalk? Lots of fun and exciting things can go wrong in a public space. πŸ™‚

  12. Minna Snow

    Congratulations on turning a turd message/realization into magic fertilizer for creative exploration.
    You shadow picture Is a fuse for ideas.
    Here is a haiku in response:

    A strange subtle world,
    Possibility’s shadows,
    A new universe.

  13. Wish I had known that. My poor character spends a lot of time at the dogwash/coffee bar!

  14. Edward N. Carson

    I meant “putting” this piece of advice in my notebook. My fingers are frozen and I can not type a thing.

  15. Edward N. Carson

    I am outing this piece of advice in my notebook. πŸ™‚

  16. Kristy Conlon

    Sounds like you’ve got the new location figured out, but since she’s based in Detroit a local Nation Coney Island would be a cool spot. Those were always my favorite places to get a cup of joe;)

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