Here’s a game you can play whenever you are putting off doing something tedious, like washing the dishes.
Here’s a game you can play whenever you are putting off doing something tedious, like washing the dishes. It’s called “stage business.” The rules of the game are simple. You are an actor in a dramatic scene and need to busy yourself with an everyday task. So while it may look like you are just scrubbing a plate, really this is happening moments before the event that advances the rest of the plot forward. This plot is your life. Maybe the event will be a ringing phone, and you will reach for a paper towel to dry your hands, but the tube will be empty because you keep forgetting to buy more, and so you’ll have to use your pant leg. This will have the bonus of helping to establish your character. Or it might be that in a moment you will drop the plate, and when you go to pick up the pieces, you’ll notice a poem that’s been written in the crack between where the floorboards start and the kitchen counter stops. You’ll devote the next thirty years to finding out who put it there, not as a full-time job, but as an unpaid, casual side project.
Starlee Kine is a contributor to the public radio program This American Life. She does stories about the world's slowest car chase, misunderstood ghosts and presidential library reenactments. She also wrote a torch song with the help of Phil Collins and designed a heartbreak cutting board designed specifally to cut tear-inducing onions on for THE THING Quarterly, to which she is a contributor at large.