No More “Cup of Coffee” Conflict
So I swapped out my old idea for the shiny new one and it really wasn’t difficult. I did a tiny bit of research, wrote for awhile in longhand and then finished up on the computer. Now all I need to do is read through the rest of the manuscript and delete the old references and insert the new which will heighten the conflict and make for a terrific black moment. I am psyched! The idea has been brewing for awhile and I knew it was good but I didn’t realize how easy it would be to get it into the story. So I’m also relieved.
I’ve gotten some criticism from editors on earlier projects about having “cup of coffee” conflicts. This is when “if the hero and heroine can sit down and solve the problem over a cup of coffee” it’s not great conflict. I have two feelings about this “cup of coffee” issue.
Yes, it does bug me when characters don’t tell each other the truth, what’s on their mind, and to sit down and talk frankly would be easier and more real. Let’s say he saw her kissing another guy and gets mad, but the guy is her brother and the kiss was innocent. That’s a “cup of coffee” conflict. “Hey, I know you saw me kissing him, but you got the wrong idea.” Easy.
But in my story, these are people in love who have yet to declare their feelings. They are not ready to divulge their deepest secrets and longings. They have baggage. They are no way going to sit down over coffee and say “Now look. I love you. I think you love me. Let’s stop all this angsting and get married.”
Not being the first to admit love is a real issue with couples early in their romance. OTOH, novels are not life, and taking a while before saying “I love you” is not a big enough thing to create a black moment. Or even build much tension, really. Not by itself. There has to be more at stake than “boy when is he ever gonna say he loves me?”
So I added something that would put physical distance between them. And while that was good, it wasn’t spectacular. It’s sort of my default thing, geography. But I was able to add more to it so that it really resonated with both characters internally. So now it works with external and internal conflict. It works on all levels.
And there is no way given these two people and their backstories that they could possibly sit down and solve this thing over coffee. It’s just way to complex for that. Finally!
You know I realized something today. Writing is not the hard part. Plotting, finding good ideas that fit characters and provide conflict, that’s the hard part. At least for me.