Prompt for Week: 16th March – 21st March 2015.
Some possible approaches to the exercise follow:
‘Bob came home mad!’ What do we see? Do we see him come in the door? What does he do? What is his face like? His body? Is this silent anger or an outburst. What do we learn about Bob? Can we tell what has triggered his anger?
Or let us watch someone trying to train a dog– a puppy, an old dog, or a scary dog. Who is in charge? How can we tell? What do the actions we observe tell us about the human and the dog?
Or let us watch a child go to a new school. We can be with her as she approaches the building, goes in, walks down the hall looking for the right room. Does she hesitate? Do we get the feeling that she is brave or scared? What do we see when she enters the classroom? How old is she? What grade is she in? Try to tell us visually.
In 500 words or less write a sketch in which we witness a character’s (or characters’) behavior from a distance. We are too far from the action to hear any dialogue. This is a sketch, a visual exercise. It’s the sort of thing you might do if you like to draw– a quick observation of a character at an interesting moment.
In critiquing this exercise let the author know how well you can ‘see’ the character and situation via the verbal sketch. What details bring the scene to life or give it depth? Does the observation tell a story? Do we understand what’s happening? Does the sketch make you want to know more about this character(s)? Could the piece be improved? If so, how?
Who AM I?
The magnetic glass doors slide open. You walk in and look around. You see a few people dispersed and seated in the grey-painted metal chairs. You stroll across the room to the last row of seats and perch yourself, sipping coffee awaiting your turn, like you always do.
You scan the room – the TV on the wall; the indoor plants; the magazine-stand; the water fountain; the young, voluptuous ever smiling clerk at the reception. Nothing unusual. She giggles. You reciprocate. You didn’t even notice the AC on full blast making me shiver through my teeth. And the fact that I have to watch this new advertisement for a miracle drug for depression makes me shudder even more. Look at all the money that is wasted on the magazines on Healthy Living and Mental Health. Who reads those? We should replace them with some film mags with juicy gossip. At least I am happy you guys bring diversity to my routine with the variety of problems you guys come with.
You look at the people in the room and zero in on the guy in the second row, dressed in baggie pants and a red ball cap. He sits with his legs crossed and drawn-in, rocking himself back and forth, his gaze fixed on the ground. You can’t tell the expression. You wonder if he is suffering from performance anxiety or just urgency to pee. Suddenly, he springs up, paces hurriedly to the entrance, stops and wipes his forehead a few times, cracks his knuckles, thinks for a few minutes and comes back to occupy his previous position and posture.
Then your focus shifts on to the next person – A lady dressed in a pink saree. Overly done make-up catches your eye especially her lips – too prominent with a dark shade of maroon lipstick. She sits reading a film magazine, tapping her feet. She casually looks up and searches the area and when she finds what she’s looking for, she reluctantly gets up from her seat and walks to the water fountain. The child in a navy blue frock playing with the fountain has her pinky stuck in the nozzle of the tap. Child is amused. The lady knuckles the little girl on her head, frees her finger and drags her away from it. The girl trails the lady looking back at the fountain with grim face like she is weaned away from her favorite science project. Are they mother and daughter, you question. You wonder why such a young girl is brought here. Or is it the mother that needs help?
The receptionist snaps her fingers indicating you can go in. You pick-up your bag and samples, toss the empty coffee-cup in the trash to perfectly land in the can and walk into the room adjacent to the reception.
All the visitor’s eyebrows are drawn in frustration for letting you go in first.
Many medical representatives like you come through those doors and I know them all – For I am a waiting lounge.