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On Writing

Endless Cups of Tea

Kameron Hurley has a great new post, “The Madhatter Teaparty: Rescuing Your Characters from Endless Cups of Tea,” about the problem of novels becoming too talky.cup-of-tea

Plot kicks my ass. It kicks my ass up one end of a story and down another, because honestly, all my characters want to do is snark at each other over tea. Or whisky. Or coffee. Or bug juice. Whatever. Any excuse for them to sit around flinging zingers at each other and discussing what they are going to do next works for me.

Snarking at each other — or perhaps politely teasing each other — over tea is about all my characters do (when they’re not being robbed by cross-dressing highwaymen or dueling with swords). In some novels, it’s literally all they do (see Rachel Cusk’s Outline). Jane Austen was criticized for exactly this. Even her publisher said that Emma “wants incident and romance, does it not?”