Sounds Like Your Next Story!
SOUNDS LIKE YOUR NEXT STORY!: a short play with infinite scenes.
Well-Meaning FRIENDs and FAMILY
Lights up on the WRITER and a FRIEND, having coffee.
WRITER: I forgot to tell you about the date. The guy literally asked the bartender out right in front of me, and so—
FRIEND: Hey, at least you could get a great short story out of that! You could give him a really stupid name!
WRITER: Ha, yeah. Well.
Lights up on WRITER and NEIGHBOR’S BOYFRIEND, at a barbecue.
WRITER: So I was like, “Excuse me, are you with the Secret Service?” and she’s like—
NEIGHBOR’S BOYFRIEND: Wait, wait, have you written this down? Aren’t you a writer? This would make a great story!
Lights up on WRITER and CABBIE, in cab.
CABBIE: Are people always telling you their crazy ideas for stories?
WRITER: You’d think so. Maybe that happens more to, like, thriller writers. And I wouldn’t mind that so much. What they tend to do is point out everything in my life that they think would make a good story. Like, “Oh, you broke your arm! That should be a story!” They mean well, I know. But it’s awfully repetitive. Like, every conversation I ever have ends the same way.
CABBIE: Do you use their ideas?
WRITER: Never. Because even if I would have used something for a story, now it’s tainted by the cloying voice of this person telling me it would make a great story.
CABBIE: Yeah, that would be annoying. Hey, maybe you could write something about that!
Lights up on WRITER, posting on Facebook.
WRITER: I have mice in my kitchen. Anyone know any humane ways to get rid of them?
COLLEGE ACQUAINTANCE: Ha, sounds like the makings of a short story!
WRITER: No, seriously, there are three mice on my counter right now. This isn’t funny.
WRITER’S AUNT: Do I sense a novel coming on? LOL
WRITER: Okay, I’m checking into a hotel.
FRIEND OF A FRIEND: Hope there are some great characters there! Can’t wait to read this story!
Lights up on WRITER and DATE at cocktail party.
WRITER: I’m sorry I’m not myself. My dog was run over by a bus last week.
DATE: Oh, that’s terrible. A bus? Wow. I mean, you’re the writer, not me, but don’t you think that would make a great detail for a story?
WRITER: Excuse me, I think my phone is buzzing.
Lights up on WRITER at Thanksgiving dinner.
WRITER: You’re allergic to corn? I don’t think I’ve heard that one before.
GRANDMOTHER: Oh, look at her! I see the wheels turning! This is how little story ideas hatch!
WRITER: No, Gran, I was just asking Alice about her corn allergy, and—
UNCLE TOBY: Alice, watch out, she’s gonna write about you!
WRITER: Actually I’m really interested in food allergies. I was reading about—
COUSIN GERTRUDE: See, Alice? You have to be careful what you tell our writer here, or you’ll wind up in one of her books!
WRITER: Oh my god.
Lights up on WRITER and WELL-MEANING FRIEND at Target.
WRITER: Check it out, they’re selling butter-scented candles.
FRIEND: Hey, that would make a great story!
WRITER: It would? Butter-scented candles?
FRIEND: I mean, I’m sure you could do something hilarious with it.
WRITER: Thank you. Thank you. Really. Because my whole problem is I’m incapable of noticing things I might want to write about. I walk through this world blind, and it’s not till helpful people shove things in my face and suggest that I write about them that I ever have an idea.
FRIEND: Dude. What the hell is your problem?
WRITER: I’m sorry. I snapped. Sometimes I snap. I’m sorry.
FRIEND: Wouldn’t that be a great story? The writer who snapped at her friend in Target?
Lights up on WRITER, alone in house, calling 911
WRITER: (hyperventilating) You have to help me, there’s a bear on my porch.
DISPATCHER: Are you safe inside?
WRITER: Yes, but my computer’s out there, and I’m a writer, and he’s eating my computer. Oh my god, and my zip drive. It has my entire manuscript on it, and he’s, like, tearing it to shreds and ingesting it.
DISPATCHER: A writer? Really? What do you write?
WRITER: Literary fiction. Could you please get the hell over here?
DISPATCHER: Because—who knows, but wouldn’t this make a great story? Maybe, like, the start to a story. Maybe the story just starts with a bear.
WRITER: Oh my god, he’s hitting the window! He’s hitting the window with what’s left of my laptop. Jesus Christ, he’s breaking the glass!
DISPATCHER: Not to tell you what to write or anything, but wouldn’t that be funny? A writer’s sitting there typing, and up comes this huge bear. And maybe in your story it’s a typewriter, you know, like old-timey? Because the ribbons would get all tangled. Wouldn’t that be hilarious?
WRITER: Listen, you need to get the fu—oh god no—mmffffmfffffffffffaaaaafffffff
DISPATCHER: All I’m saying is, feel free to use that. It’s yours.
About AuthorRebecca Makkai
Rebecca Makkai's story collection, MUSIC FOR WARTIME, is available this summer from Viking. Her novel THE HUNDRED-YEAR HOUSE was called stunning: ambitious and intriguing" by Library Journal. She is also the author of THE BORROWER (Viking 2011) and numerous short stories four of which have been anthologized in THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES series. She will be teaching this fall at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is the recipient of a 2014 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her website is http://www.rebeccamakkai.com and she tweets at @rebeccamakkai."