Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

All the stage is a kitchen #amwriting


“You know, love, I try to be inspiring.” My Muse leans over my shoulder, so close I can smell evergreen and fresh-cut wood with a touch of cinnamon. “But I have to tell you that’s a stupid title for your post.”

“Gee, thanks. I don’t hear you coming up with a better one.” Or a post subject for that matter. I lean back in my office chair with a bit of difficulty since he’s standing right behind me, all six-foot two inches of his toned physique. With his red and black flannel shirt rolled halfway up his forearms and worn-well jeans, I envision him more inclined to throw a steak or two on the barbie instead of shrimp. Hell, forget the barbie; just cook ’em over a campfire.

Image by Tommy_Rau from Pixabay

He plants a hand on the back of my chair and bends closer, giving me a view of the individual hairs of his stubble, now more ten o’clock shadow than five o’clock, covering his square jaw and …

“Really, love? That is so cliche.”

“Which part? The ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’ part or the rugged outdoorsman cooking steak over fire part?” I can feel the heat from his skin. I should probably open a window; it’s getting a little warm in here. “I figure you’re Australian, so shrimp.” It goes with the Aussie surfer image. Then again, the roguish look works for him. Definitely works for him.

He turns to face me and rests a hip on my desk. “We are not talking about shrimp, love. Or steak. We are talking about the scene in your WIP. Focus.”

Fine. “Okay, so the thing is everyone is over at the mentor’s house. Well, his widow’s house. They went over there yesterday after the memorial service, had coffee and caught up on a few things. Some conflict between a couple characters. Another character comes and argues with the son-in-law. A little foreshadowing. The scene takes place in the kitchen slash dining area, of course, because that’s where everyone gathers.”

“Sounds logical. What’s the problem?”

“Well, my other main character arrives at the house the next morning, and of course that’s another meet and greet, also in the kitchen area, because that’s where you do things like that. Then the police chief arrives to share some information, and of course that all takes place in the kitchen, too.”

“So, you’re saying it’s boring.”

“Not boring, but shouldn’t there be some change of scenery? I mean, do readers want to see two or three scenes in a row all in the kitchen slash dining area?”

“Are there any scenes in that sequence that are not in the kitchen area?”

“Well, yeah. The main character goes to the garage, where the mentor died, to look over the scene.” Everything is done indoors, in the same-ish space. “But everyone is at the house. In the house. And they are all sitting around the table drinking coffee.” Because that’s what people do.

“Hmm.” He scratches at his stubble. “What about a patio in the backyard?”

“It’s just before Memorial Day weekend in northern Minnesota. In the morning. It’s chilly outside.” I review the layout of the house in my head. “What if they go into the living room to discuss the chief’s news? Would that work?”

“Sure, it will work,” he says, “but will it be enough is the question, right? All you can do is write it and see how it reads.”

“C’mon, you’re my Muse. Help me out, here. Give me some other ideas.”

“Why are they sitting around the table? What are they talking about? Is it a matter of the characters getting information or the reader?”

“Both. I’m just thinking about how this stuff works in real life. That’s what you do. Someone dies, everyone goes back to the house and talks about stuff because weddings and funerals are when people reunite. You talk about stuff at the table …”

Hold on. Duh. “The first day, after the memorial, it’s later, early evening I suppose, when they get back to the house. They could hang out on the patio then. It’s late May, so it stays light out later.” It would still be cool out, but that might be where the mentor and his wife used to sit and enjoy the flowers. That adds an emotional connection.

My Muse wears a self-satisfied grin. “See, love, I knew you’d figure it out.”

This is how a lot of my scene work goes, though. I write it, it’s not quite right, then I take a walk and talk things through until something clicks. It’s a good thing we’re out in the country, or someone might call those nice young men in their clean white coats 😀

After all the rain this week, I might venture into the garden later, but for now, I have some (lots of!) writing to do. Enjoy your weekend!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), one dog, five chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

22 thoughts on “All the stage is a kitchen #amwriting

  1. I think one of the most important points here is to just write the scene and see how it goes, Julie. Sometimes those connections – that link the reader makes to the story, too – just start to flow. And I do like the idea of the patio being not just a place for people talk, but a place where memory is evoked. Nice emotional link there without it being too maudlin.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Margot! I keep learning different techniques to try to work through stuff like this. I’ve written the “everyone is in the kitchen” draft. Now to try it this way. And anytime a writer can tie an emotional response to a setting is good. Thank you for the encrouagement!

      Enjoy your weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think it’s good when we’re asked the “whys” when it comes to our writing. It makes us think and rewrite, think some more and then rewrite. Often, my scenes are never the same as they originally started. Happy writing, Julie!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It sounds like you have a good writing method, Julie. I don’t have a set method for writing or even a set place. I am a bit of a any place, any how, any time writer at the moment with all the other things that go on in my life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are more disciplined than I am if you can write wherever whenever. I try, and sometimes I can focus, but often my mind wanders too much. I’ve adjusted my writing method over the years, as I think most authors do, until I find one that works consistently for me. And you are so right about other things in life pre-empting writing. I know the pesky thing called a full-time job really eats into my writing time 😀

      Have a great week!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I love Zoey’s white tip on her tail. mmm. Scrumptious. Oops. I’m starting to sound like Alf.
    It’s nice having a muse to talk things through with. I didn’t realize you did so out loud. If you hear him answer you out loud, I’d be a little scared.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL! So far, he hasn’t answered out loud, though I wouldn’t put it past him. When I talk things through on my walks, I sometimes wonder if someone sees me (our neighbors are 1/4 to 1/2 mile away). I find talking out loud sometimes helps more than just working things through in my head.

      And yes, you did start to sound like Alf 😀

      Have a great week, Betsy!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We do a lot talking in the kitchen so it makes sense that’s where it might end up. I like the idea of the garden by the flowers, it is good rethink where the action is taking place. Have a great week, Julie.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I hate when I realize something I thought was perfect comes out boring. That happens more than I want to admit.l

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Every writer has a different process. Whatever works, and that might change next week, the point is to just write it. Some great ideas fall into place during a walk. I used t swim and map out entire chapters as I did laps. Probably should get back to doing that, swimming, I mean.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right! My process has changed over the past many years. I think we try something, then read about another method, and add that to the mix. Eventually we hit on something that works, at least for the time being. I’ve found that walking helps when I’m stuck. Not always, but it seems to loosen things up a bit.

      Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Forgot to mention that I liked the “immediate” feel to your style in this post and the fluid dialogue with its undercurrent of humor.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like the way you go back and forth with your muse to figure things out. It’s cool to see the process.
    I alway equate mine to a puzzle I keep picking at and picking at until I finally get the problem piece to fit (thank you, Mr.E!). Right now I’m doing a lot of that, LOL.
    Happy writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I love hearing about how these things get worked through. The craft of writing that is so “behind the scenes.” Happy Writing! And what’s with the rain? It’s been pouring here. Winter is Coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha! That made me think of GoT. Hubs and I are watching it now, since we don’t have cable, and we can get it through the library. We got a deluge of rain last week, and this week summer is back with tropical humidity and temps in the 80s. Ugh. Hard to believe we’re halfway through September already, and the equinox is next week!

      Have a great writing week, Diana!

      Liked by 1 person

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