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The Junk Drawer Discovery

Imagine someone’s junk drawer, that place where you accumulate weird stuff: paperclips and garden hose o-rings, dead highlighters and the fake money your junior high gave out for good behavior. To do this, you need to first imagine a scenario where one character must search through another person’s belongings, including the junk drawer. Maybe Marta is looking for signs of drug use in her son. Maybe Frank is looking through John’s kitchen drawer for his own wife’s missing earring, which he’s pretty sure she lost (an anniversary gift no less!) when she was visiting John. Maybe Starlene is a thief. Maybe Giuliano can’t find his grandmother’s medicine anywhere and she’s having a seizure.

Think up your characters and the scenario, and then brainstorm everything found in the junk drawer. Throw as much stuff into your list as possible, drawing on everything you know about the character’s life.

Once you’ve made your list, read over it. Circle just a few items that stand out as especially interesting or telling or unexpected. Might one of those objects change what Frank or Starlene or Giuliano know about the lives around them? Now you’ve got the making of a scene.

It’s a great day to write something! Go!

Jennifer Buxton teaches fiction at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. She is a loudly proud alumna of YWW (‘84-‘85), where she once served as Writer-in-Residence with Elizabeth Hadaway, and later as writing teacher in fiction. She has an MFA from the University of Virginia, has published in Epoch, Puerto del Sol, and Blue Penny Quarterly, and is finishing a book of stories called Speaking Español.