Monday, May 30, 2005

Gotham Writer's Workshop Exercises: It's On!

Finally willing to post some actual writing that I've done, prompted by the Writing Fiction exercises...

Here's the assignment:

PAGE 30: Imagine the worst person you’ve ever met, or make one up. Then assign them a redeeming quality. Then write a passage with them in action.

Here's what I came up with, in terms of skeleton:
Self-centered bitchy snob: Ashley McCameron. Alcoholic, childless married for money fake-chested trophy wife. However, she has a soft spot for waitresses since she was one in the year or two before she met her 70 year-old husband.

And here's what I came up with. This was written May 23rd, 2005, from 11:00-11:45, with just a bit of (probably forbidden) tinkering--changed three or four words tops.

Ashley McCameron seethed. When she ordered a bottle of 1996 Dom Perignon for her table, she didn’t expect to be told that the St. Jacques Hotel supply of the champagne had dwindled, and that the last bottle of 1996 vintage was consumed earlier that week. However, it wasn’t her thwarted desire that had her ire up. What was raising the trophy wife’s blood pressure was the behavior of her lunch companion, fellow 2nd Wife Clubber Nicole Meredith-Neal.

“What kind of retards are they staffing this place with anyway?” Nicole spat.

“Miss, we’d be happy to offer you some ‘92, on the house…” the nervous waitress attempted to reply.

“Hey, retard? I’m through dealing with you. Get your boss over here. Hell, get your boss’ boss over here, too. I don’t give two shits if they have to walk to France to get us the 1996 we want. God knows we’re paying enough of your salary, which is probably too high as it is,” Nicole interrupted, steadily increasing the volume to low roar.

At this point, Ashley felt as if she were having an out-of-clique experience, as if she was watching some strange Elitism Security Camera from the upper right corner of the restaurant. She gently touched Nicole’s left hand, as Nicole’s right was currently occupied with its index finger poking the air sternly, pantomiming a vicious thrust to the waitress’ solar plexus.

“Nicole, let’s just drop this and eat,” Ashley pleaded. Snapping back into character, partly in response to Nicole’s expression: Et tu, Ashley?, she continued, “there’s no need to let this little person’s on the job training spoil our “girl time”. So… Leigh, right? Why don’t you just bring us the ’96, and make sure the manager brings it over to us with a smile, ‘kay?” Ashley felt almost more fake than usual when she delivered the driest, least sincere closing of her English-speaking career: “Thanks.”

Although Nicole was unsuccessful at repressing what she saw as boundless insult on the part of the St. Jacques, Ashley managed one secret, apologetic gesture on poor Leigh’s behalf. When paying the check (always much easier to wrest from Nicole than it should be, Ashley thought), she tripled the cost of the meal in calculating Leigh’s tip. When Leigh retrieved the bill and viewed it, she cast a nervous glance to Ashley, who returned a stern visage that didn’t exactly frighten Leigh; it wasn’t meant to. The waitress delivered a perfunctory thank-you, and walked away, keeping Ashley’s secret vulnerability just that.

Ashley Dukowski, Howie's Hot Pants and Hot Sauce Oasis, class of 2001.


At 7:30 PM , Blogger MDBuck said...

I think that what you did both right and wrong in this one were different sides of the same coin: while I completely believed the character of Ashley, Nicole was a bit TOO bitchy for me to believe. (Though maybe that's just my being too sheltered, I dunno.)

But I guess maybe that was kind of the point of this assignment, and you did need to have someone to balance Ashley against. Nicole just felt a little over-the-top. Ashley, though, was pretty close to dead-on.

Incidentally, did you base either of those characters on someone I know? :)


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