Where You Find Refuge

I love the part in stories when the characters meet in cafes. There is something intimate about a cafe that elicits honesty among those who go there. It is a warm and safe place where people take off their masks, and often where they go to work out their problems. On the other hand, we often see people putting on masks when they go to an expensive restaurant. Do you ever notice how characters meet their friends in a cafe, but they meet their enemies in the white tablecloth-, crystal glass-type atmosphere? In the movie Thor, for example, the people Thor runs into when he visits earth take him to a homely diner. This builds a sense of comfortability among those in the group. In Paranoia, on the other hand, the rivaling companies meet in fine-dining settings, creating tension and competition between each other. [Sidebar: Yes, I realize I just named movies that feature the Hemsworth brothers. What can I say, they’re rather nice-looking and they have accents] I can’t recall how many times I’ve wanted to write a story that includes a scene in a cafe or coffee shop. The worn chairs, the smooth jazz playing in the background, the hot mug warming my hands. A pause in everyday life as I contemplate the adventures awaiting me. But as I’ve heard from many artists, people don’t want to hear a story in which there is no conflict. What does work in a story is when the character has a refuge, a place to escape in the midst of trouble. In novels it may be a hidden cave or an attic. In many movies, it is a coffee shop or cafe. Often I am so distracted by everyday stresses that I don’t want to focus on creating a fictional conflict. But perhaps the escape isn’t so much the location I write about as it is in the actual writing. Hence why it’s taken me three hundred words to say I love coffee shops.

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