What can happen at a tea party? Lewis Carroll already took a crack at answering this question. A tea party can be bizarre, romantic, tragic, comedic…It all depends on three things: characters, situation, and setting.
Who is at this tea party? The guests will shape the events. For example, a tea party where Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty are both attendees will have a very different feel, and level of dialogue complexity, from one hosted by Pollyanna for her friends.
Something has to happen. For any scene to be interesting, the protagonist must have a goal that he/she can succeed or fail at. The goal could be as simple as hosting a tea party that goes off without a hitch (anyone who’s planned a party will tell you that’s not so simple) or as complicated as charming a malicious ruler into sparing a loved one’s life.
Where is the tea party, in an English garden or on a spaceship 1,000 years in the future? At what time of day does the tea party take place? How many guests are in attendance? The setting needs to affect the protagonist in some way (e.g. he/she grew up here, he/she thinks this place is haunted, he/she has always wanted to see inside of this location). Descriptions of the setting should be given through the five senses and enhance the emotions stirred up by the situation. One way to do this is to compare and/or contrast the description of the location to the protagonist’s or antagonist’s physical appearance, emotions, or personal preferences.
The day before her rehearsal dinner, the bride-to-be is invited to a formal tea at her fiancé’s family’s country club. It is a tradition in her fiancé’s family for the mother of the groom to give the family heirloom, a diamond bracelet, to the bride before the wedding rehearsal, but his mother does not think the bride is good enough for her son and has announced that she won’t give her the bracelet. The groom is very upset and the bride is worried that he might be having second thoughts about marrying her. This tea party is her last chance to earn his mother’s approval, get the bracelet, and save her wedding.
Your writing challenge is to write a scene or short story that answers the question “What can happen at a tea party?”
Have fun, drink tea, and happy writing!