creative projects · Dreadful Musings · Fiction

3. The Muse and the Inner Critic

Mellie has a muse and an inner critic. During spurts of creative energy, she wondered about these two figures that helped to push and stifle her writing. In times of deep contemplation, she couldn’t help but think of them as actual people whispering over her shoulder.

The muse and the inner critic both resided in her brain and provided Mellie with her best ideas. Her muse was supportive and bubbly. Let’s call her Aria.

Aria is known to flit about the room and everything that caught her eye led to one idea and then another. Just last week whilst looking outside a dirty window, she saw a tree innocently swaying in the wind and wondered if it harbored thoughts of revenge against certain people in the neighborhood.

“Everyday kids kick about the tree and pet owners allow their dogs to urinate near its brethren,” she said as she stroked her chin. “How do you suppose it would act if allowed the chance to retaliate against them?”

“It wouldn’t act, dummy. It’s a tree,” scoffed her inner critic as he leaned back in his chair.

Yes, a he who for the purpose of this narrative has decided to be called Michael. Michael always checked the excesses of Aria but always did so in a pretentious kind of way. Mellie often imagined him sitting back in a rolling chair, reading through a bourgeois magazine while a cup of coffee steamed near him.

Aria and Michael never got along. Aria imagined the possibilities of a certain idea whilst Michael harped on its limitations. Aria was always concerned with the big picture while Michael got lost in the details. They were both important to Mellie but she gets rather irked with their constant bickering and misconduct.

Mellie was looking at a Word doc when Michael casually entered the room, a frown in its usual place. He looked over her shoulder.

“Is that all you are going to say about these characters?” he asked.

“Do you think I need to add a bit more detail?”

“Obviously or your audience will think they’re two dimensional,” he said while stroking his chin. “How about dialogue?”

Aria bounced into the room. “Yes! Dialogue’s perfect! The characters could build a sense of connection and an entire backstory could be crafted seamlessly.”

Michael shook his head. “No, no, no. This is supposed to be a short piece, Aria. Too much dialogue would bore the reader.”

“Or, it can make the story move faster and make the characters engaging,” she shot back. “Besides, there is no such thing as too much dialogue.”

“Oh, that’s all well and good, but what details are to be included in this conversation. Going into an entire backstory would sound unnatural and forced.”

“Throw some ideas around and make it stick. We’ll edit it later.”

“You mean I’ll edit it later!”

Mellie rubbed her temples. Ah, this was never going to work! She closed out her document and went to bed.


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