Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Try it out Tuesday: Characterizations

Here's the infodump example:

She had hair the color of flax. It hung in heavy wave around her heart-shaped face. Her blue-green eyes sparkled as she giggled. She was the kind of person who loved life and found a secret delight in everything around her. Her family had always been supportive of her and she knew that no matter what she decided, they would be happy for her. Today was her first day at a new job and she was excited and nervous all at the same time.

Here's the better example:

She pulled a strand of hair through her fingers, tucking it firmly behind her ear, and smoothed the fabric of the new suit. The polyester felt slick under her palms. She glanced across the desk in front of her, then rubbed her hands on the suit again. The ringing of the phone startled her and she fumbled the receiver for a moment before she could answer the call. "McAllister and Sons, how may I direct your call?"

"I'm trying to reach Mr. McAllister. It's very important." The voice on the other end of the line sounded upset.

Sarah flipped through the directory that sat by the phone and groaned in dismay. "Which McAllister would you like to speak to?"

"Mr. McAllistair. I want to speak to Mr. McAllister."

"There are five different McAllisters in our firm. Do you know which one you are looking for?" 

"I just need Mr. McAllister. I'm in a bit of a rush, so if you could please just connect me?" The volume and urgency increased with each word.

"Maybe if you could tell me what you need Mr. McAllister to help you with, I could better get you to the right one?"  She pulled out a notebook and scrambled through the desk drawer for a pen.

"Look, miss, stop playing with me and connect me to Mr. McAllister."

"Certainly, sir. Have a nice day." She punched the button on the phone to transfer the call to the junior partner's desk and hung up the receiver again.

She ran a hand through her hair and tucked the same runaway strand behind her ear again.She set the pen and notebook at a right angle to the phone and looked critically at the desk. After a moment, she put them back in the drawer. The phone rang again, and with a sigh, she picked up the receiver. "McAllister and Sons. How may I help you?"


What did you learn about the character in the second piece? Which one do you think was more effective? How is your own practice going?

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