a generative, non prescriptive writing prompt
We all drink. Water, mother's milk, greasy gin, tea… So should our characters. It's a great opportunity to delve into the everyday and reveal some primordial associations that can unpack their psyches.
In Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, there is a lot of drinking. Mostly alcohol, wine, rum but also potions and the tropical rainwater held by the blossoms of flowers after a downpour. Late in the book, after drunkenness and jealousy and obeah have wrecked their havok on the already doomed relationship of Antoinette and Rochester, Rhys describes Rochester drinking: "It was rum I chose to drink. Yes, it was mild in the mouth, I waited a second for the explosion of heat and light in my chest, the strength and warmth running through my body." He drinks and drinks again, then accuses Antoinette, the wife he now despises, of being drunk herself, denying her a taste of what he partakes of so liberally. His wrathful intoxication and the contradictions that surround his thoughts about Antoinette's drinking embody his conflicted relationship to her.
In Christina Stead's The Man Who Loved Children, tea becomes a dreadful motif. In 1984, greasy gin, drunk from a battered tea cup, is irrefutable evidence of Winston's degradation.
Ask yourself what drink could be a meaningful way to explore a character's past, their relationships, their personality. It could be anything from water to milk to whiskey, but as you describe your character drinking, go deep, find associations. Consider using recurrent instances of drinking to make it reveal something more profound.
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