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Backfire

July 27, 2012

I’m not speaking to Andi. Andi is my sister and she doesn’t know I’m giving her the silent treatment because, well, she lives in VA and I haven’t called to explain that we’re not speaking. Also, if I don’t write this down, I’ll forget. When we were little and she would, for instance, draw scars on my bride doll’s face with a blue ballpoint, I would take a similar vow only I had this frustrating inability to hold a grudge and within a day I’d be talking to her again. So I’d write notes to myself listing all the reasons for my outrage and stick them in my sock drawer. And forget they were there. Plus, I’m a talker. Why punish myself with the silent treatment? Still, there they were, all those little plots, all those succinct conflicts, those problems, sitting in my sock drawer like a hundred writing prompts.

Write about the last time you were mad at someone. Or the first time you remember being mad as a child. Link the two incidents. Use any mechanism at all—the season, occasion, person, transgression. Show how things have or haven’t changed, how you or your character, have or haven’t changed.
Or write about someone who can’t keep quiet even when it is in his or her best interest. Can’t be silent during a ceremony, interrupts a wedding proposal, can’t stop arguing with a policeman, can’t pick up signals from a spouse at a dinner party. What happens? How does this create a problem? That problem is your plot. Feel into it. When was the last time you just had to say something even though you knew better? How have words gotten you in trouble?

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