SnackWrites #2: Viewpoint and Description
April 25, 2017 at 12:36 pm #1322
For members’ solutions to the second SnackWrites exercize: Viewpoint and Description
This exercise was submitted by SnackReads’ General Editor, Josh Gentry.
Exercise: A character enters a restaurant. Describe the scene from the viewpoint of multiple people sitting in the restaurant to reveal information about the viewpoint character.
Simply write one description at a time, when you are able. In my examples, I present two versions of the same two characters, using four descriptions.
Descripton 1: Julie burst through the door just as the waiter was refilling Sam’s coffee. She swept through the restaurant, scattering objects and people in her path. Never a dull moment, since the moment she was born. He couldn’t help but smile.
Description 2: A woman blundered through the cafe door, letting in an eddy of frigid air. Maggie recognized her high school classmate immediately, despite the ten intervening years. She pressed her lips together in a thin smile as she watched Julie trip over every possible obstacle, and some that didn’t seem possible.
Description 3: The waiter was refilling Sam’s coffee for the second time when Julie made her usual dramatic entrance. She had always been a door slammer. He tried not to frown as she bumped and jostled other patrons on the way to his table. Her smile was oblivious.
Description 4: Maggie recognized Julie the moment she entered the restaurant. She quickly looked down at her food and pulled her shoulders in tight. Out of the corner of her eye she tracked Julie across the restaurant. The same careless clumsiness with those long limbs, but she remembered the dexterity of those hands. Maggie felt herself start to blush, and tried to force herself to look at her phone. Her husband had just texted.June 8, 2017 at 2:49 pm #1333
The maitre’d hotel’s brow furrowed, perhaps in concentration, or just trying to ignore the faint but unpleasant stench wafting from the obese bulk before him. But it was no use. A greasy, plump hand reached out and rapped a gaudy gold ring against the wood. He looked up into the cold, glittering eyes above the downturned, pink puckered slash of the mouth. No words were necessary; the man was punctual as ever. His attempted smile was not returned as he made room for the bloated diner to waddle past.
Jean the waiter took a quick glance and scowled. Sure enough, the head waiter directed the newcomer towards his regular table. Helpfully holding out the chair, his banter was swallowed by the fat man’s sullen silence as always. The man dropped into the chair, which creaked alarmingly at the insult. Jean knew better than to try to push the chair in; far easier to pull the table into position. With great dignity, the man flicked the napkin into place over his ancient, worn and greasy lapels, despite the flecks of hardened food embedded there.
Following her companion’s amused gaze, Marie turned to look at the new arrival. In the candlelight, the top of his balding head glistened with a sheen of perspiration, though the restaurant was slightly chilled. She noticed his piggy little eyes drinking her in, as his lips silently worked as if chewing on the bill of fare in his hands. But she had to smile as he stroked his thin mustache while from somewhere beneath his enormous bulk, a long, slow fart emanated like a distant foghorn.
Once this had been his favorite dining establishment, a home away from home. The food was excellent and varied, and he knew the staff so well, he barely had to use his mouth for speaking. Though he still dressed formally as he could and treated them with more generosity than they deserved, they seemed to almost take him for granted. Perhaps he should find another restaurant after all. Yet, he could tell from the approving way the young woman at the next table smiled that he hadn’t lost his charm. His stomach rumbled an audible reminder and so Mr. Creosote turned to order the first course.June 8, 2017 at 2:55 pm #1334
Interesting exercise, thanks. Sorry it took so long to get my stab at it up, and I probably included too much description of the other characters. But what I find most interesting is how they interact as it is partly due to their own characteristics that they see what they do in this new arrival. Meanwhile, Mr. Creosote is loathsome to all around him, yet he is oblivious to this, and sees himself as a dignified, attractive fellow.
I have to admit that while 3rd person omniscient viewpoint may not be popular these days, it feels most natural to me.
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