I was writing a scene where a married couple were having one of those married conversations, about what to get his daughter for a wedding gift. The husband says they have to buy a gift. And I had the wife think that the daughter and her groom would probably prefer money. But she doesn't say that because (she thinks in her head) the last time she suggested that (giving a gift of money to a wedding couple), the husband (who is older and richer) scoffed at her, saying that it's tasteless to give money as a wedding gift.
And the wife thinks that she'll never understand the upper classes, all these rules, all this "taste" stuff.
See the problem? There's a conversation taking place NOW. In the scene. And yet the most interesting part of it, the exchange that reveals the class conflict between them, took place sometime before, about some other wedding. The conflict is in retrospect, not right here right now.
It's sort of scary how often I do that, slide into a retrospective of something that ought to be happening now. Easy to fix here, however!
Husband says they need to shop for a wedding gift (maybe specify something "tasteful" like crystal).
Wife says NOW, "Why not just give them the money and let them decide how to spend it?"
Husband NOW says, "We can't give my daughter a check for her wedding! That's -- that's tasteless."
And since it's happening NOW, the wife can maybe draw this out a bit more, demand what he means by tasteless, that when her sister got married, the groom's parents gave them enough for a down payment on a house, and no one thought that was tasteless.
And he can say, kind of coldly, well, of course, for your family, that was probably considered the height of good taste. But the rule is, money is not a good gift for a wedding. Something that indicates a long life together, family, tradition, that is in good taste. Like crystal.
And she can think about how she will never understand all these rules of the upper classes, that seem to be so at odds with real life.
But NOW she could give in, to keep the peace, and to prevent her husband thinking too much of her lower-class origins. The catalyst for her giving in would have just happened this way, not weeks ago.
And can I make the giving in more concrete? Maybe by her gathering up her purse and saying, "Let's go then to that crystal shop on Pike St." That would be a concrete representation of her capitulation.
Anyway, something to watch out for-- make the retrospective immediate if possible. Then again, this might be a problem only for me!