Adventures into the Madness

The Art of Play


I was watching my daughter prepare a gourmet restaurant meal for me the other day at her play kitchen.  After asking me if I wanted marshmallows in my hot tea, she busily measured out a cup of water, poured it into the sauce pan, and then turned on the burner.  What fascinated me was not the way she creatively put chopped vegetables into the pan along with my tea (what a timesaver!) but the detail with which she went about her imaginary cooking.

She held the cup under the faucet for exactly the amount of time it would take to fill it.  She tilted her head as she twisted the knob on the burner exactly like you would to check the temperature and make sure the burner had turned on.  She waited impatiently (complete with exaggerated sigh) for the water to heat and the tea to be ready.  There was a moment when I was looking at her faucet to make sure it hadn’t actually started spouting out real water!

It strikes me that this is very much what a writer must accomplish in a story.  Using tools at hand, a writer must imitate the motions and patterns and emotions of a character or setting so thoroughly that a reader will begin to forget that the faucet is imaginary and the tea invisible.  It wasn’t the end result of my daughter’s tea that convinced me of its authenticity, it was her attention to those minute, but important, details in the creation of it. (I sense theatre in her future…)

And who could have guessed that marshmallows were such a tasty topping on tea?