Prompt #38 — Write Like Devin Murphy

Murphy’s piece (view here) takes an unexpected event—the death of the fox—and uses it to reveal several different elements of human nature in the story’s characters. The father’s tenderness toward the fox and the detailed, artistic description of its body are juxtaposed with the mother’s concern for superficial appearances. The narrator’s uncertainty about identity further complicates the family dynamic; the child isn’t yet sure how to follow the diverse paths established by the parents or if he should pursue a different course entirely.


Some events heighten our identity, bringing out the best or worst of us. In many cases, these turning points are experienced by children encountering something for the first time. Murphy uses this approach but avoids cliché through careful detail and inquiry. Try a story of your own in which characters confront circumstances that challenge their sense of self. Pick a circumstance that is disruptive enough to cause real introspection, but avoid sensationalism.