Small Irritants and Narratives

I’m going through a time when things just seem to be out of kilter—nothing major, just little things that frustrate me. This morning, for instance, I was cleaning my glasses when the top of the little spray bottle rolled off the top of the dresser, never to be seen again. I looked under the dresser…

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The Case of the Missing Shirt: Some Tips for Writing Narratives

“You put it in the suitcase, didn’t you?” my wife Cathy says. “Oh, no. Don’t tell me,” I say. “You have got to be kidding.” (I rarely begin a narrative with dialogue, but in this case it seems called for, given the urgency of the situation). The “it” in question is my favorite shirt. It’s…

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Explosions: An Exercise for Plotting a Narrative

Cathy and I were having a perfectly pleasant Sunday. We’d had a lovely gathering of students the night before, had slept late, and then gone to brunch. I was in the kitchen, steeping a cup of tea, while Cathy was putting away some clean dishes. Somehow—she doesn’t really know how it happened—a Pyrex measuring cup…

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Time in Stories

Modern hourglass on wooden backgroundThe music swells, the bridesmaids and groomsmen are already in place, as is the groom, looking nervous-elated-placid-dour-hungover. There’s that moment of anticipation when the wedding guests turn in their chairs and crane their necks to look for what they know is imminent, the arrival of the bride. Suddenly, there she-him-they is/are,…

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Using Relics in Narratives

Yesterday, my wife Cathy was sorting through her purse when she came upon her now-expired YMCA membership card. “I guess I don’t need this anymore,” she said. Indeed our membership cards are now relics of a before-time that no longer exists, that time when COVID had yet to arrive. During the pandemic, we bought our…

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