Playwriting

Writing Exercise: What’s in your cart?

Have you ever stood in line at the grocery store and found yourself casually glancing ahead in line, and then back in line to see what those fore and aft have in their carts? Do you ever try to figure out what kind of person they are based on what they’re buying? What kind of family they have? What’s their story? What makes them buy the things they do? Why is that 20 year old buying one container of margarine?

Go to the grocery store on a very busy day. Buy a pack of gum and get in the longest line. Casually glance at the carts ahead and behind you. Try not to be obvious, people in general don’t like nosy nellys. Memorize the list, if you can write it down, do. Be specific with the amounts and numbers. Twelve boxes of Kraft Dinner is much more interesting that one.

Now that you have a list, create a character who would buy these items and why. Where do they live? What is their financial status? Are they single or married with a family? Are they hiding something? Is there anything unexpected in the cart? What is the emotional statement of the items as a whole?

Write a scene where this character arrives home with the groceries. Who does this character talk to? What happens? Does the cart items motivate conflict or harmony? Have fun!

About the author

Lindsay Price