POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE
My Dear Mr. Murphy
By Nandy Ekle
First of all, I want you to peek in the window of this house. The owner is in his bed sleeping. He’s still and quiet, not even snoring. We’ll stand here for, oh, about a hundred pages and watch. Everything stays peaceful. His robe is hanging on the hook and the only thing on the floor is the dog, which also does not move a muscle. No sounds, no action, no chaos.
Now let’s go to the house next door. Look in that window and what do you see? Well the owner seems to be getting into bed. The bed is all ruffled, which means he’s been in bed and gotten up. His robe is in a heap on the floor at the foot as if he tried to toss it on the chair and missed. The dog is standing on four feet turning circles like, maybe, he’s been outside and come back in. We hear kids crying upstairs and the lady of the house stomps into the room with a scowl on her face and a wooden spoon in her hand. Her robe falls off her shoulders in a pile and she stomps past it. They both pull the covers up to their chins and he turns out the light.
We’ll stand here a few pages more and listen to them snore. Then we hear a phone ring, the dog barks, and childish laughter peals from the upper floor. Mr. and Mrs. both turn on their lights and roll out of bed. They reach for their robes and don’t find them. The dog jumps around wagging his tail as the two adults stumble to the foot of the bed and bump into each other while searching. He goes for the phone, which has rung two more times and she gets the wooden spoon and heads out the door; the dog jumps in the bed and immediately lays down and goes to sleep.
Which one of these homeowners is the most peaceful? Which one the most interesting? While peace, order and serenity may be wonderful in real life, your story needs conflict to be interesting.
Mr. Murphy has the perfect formula for story writing: Anything that can go wrong, will.”
Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.