Monday, April 23, 2007

The Bell Boy

Posted by Lisa

Southern California is nice. Palm trees. Dry mountains in every direction asking to be explored. Really nice. My family and I went there this school vacation week. My Muse stayed in Boston; crutches (I have a broken foot) and kids scared that fickle Muse away. But it was lovely.

As an exercise to "wake-up" those writing muscles I neglected this week, I selected a random writing exercise from Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan. It reads as such:

Write a physical description in which a first person main character describes himself so the reader can visualize him...Now write a description of a first-person narrator that reveals his experience of living inside his body.

Hmmm. Well, there was a bell boy I noticed ... okay, I'll try. Bear with me?

First, a description so the reader can visualize him:

His nametag read Andre, the letters written in delicate cursive under the bold print of the Hyatt label. The A of his name started and ended with the sweep of a curl, the rest of the letters were smaller, following along for the ride, obedient. When the Mercedes stopped in front of the Hotel just before the tallest palm tree, he took his time bending over, opening the door. With a sigh he forced his face into a greeting. His teeth were as white as the cotton gloves he wore.

Andre's hair was sandy, blond at the top as though he was letting a bleach job grow out, a bad idea that maybe he regretted. Every now and then something about him seemed familiar to passers-by. But probably he just had that sort of face.

Second, a description that reveals his experience of living inside his body:

Andre had gotten used to the nametag - sort of. After two years of poking that label into his shirt it no longer felt like he was fastening it to the skin of his chest, attaching the Hyatt name to his soul for the day. Though every day it said: "Here I am. At your service." That nametag called out to every tourist that glanced in his direction.

He had the right look. Andre knew that. People in the movie business agreed; his break would come. Good looks. Straight nose. Smooth around the rough edges. But everyone in L.A. put the same effort into getting that just-right, tousled-haired, comfy-jean, casual look. It was work. More work than opening car doors, closing them again. Taking luggage up to the guests' rooms. No one recognized him. And why should they? Not everyone has seen that Tide commercial from last year. It only aired for two months, and let's face it, it wasn't that remarkable to start with.

Poor Andre - must be tough. Kind of like writing I think. Well, I've cracked my writing knuckles.
Have a wonderful writing week!


Larramie said...

Poor Andre to be sure, Lisa, but you instantly made me care. What a fun exercise, WORD PAINTING will be included in my next order from Amazon. Thank you!

Lisa Marnell said...

Word Painting is a fantastic writing resource. It was one of the first I read and has left a lasting impression.


Lyz said...

I used this writing exercise with the girl I tutor and showed her your examples. It worked wonderfully! Thank you.