A character arrives late to a party, not knowing that an old significant other is attending too. The relationship didn’t end well. The host introduces them to each other, unaware of their history. In 500 words or less, write the scene and rewrite it twice, once from each character’s perspective: The late arriver, the ex and the host.
Why: Sometimes a story scene can be effective written from a secondary character’s point of view. Writing as a neutral observer might help you notice details worth including in the scene (such as the main characters’ actions and body language); actions that you wouldn’t think about as much if you were writing from a different viewpoint.
More than fashionably late and now this. Lanny introducing me to Stella. Going on and on about her. I could tell Lanny a million things about her, things he would never guess. Things he probably wouldn’t want to know. A whole history book.
Feigning interest and surprise, I’m trying to keep up with Lanny and his gushing over Stella. Gushing that obviously came from Lanny’s wife, who just recently met Stella and obviously doesn’t know about Stella and me or, if she does, she failed to fill in Lanny on our past.
So, Lanny launches into a colorful, extended, over the top introduction of Stella to me.
The subtext is clear: Stella and I should hook up.
Walking a tightrope, I try to share Lanny’s enthusiasm, but not commit to anything, all the time hoping Lanny will excuse himself to mingle with the other guests.
Stella could help out here a bit, too. Instead of lapping up all this praise, she could set the record straight, or at least demur. She could act a bit embarrassed or ask Lanny to stop but instead she just smiles pertly and almost nudges him on, more, more.
As Lanny moves on to another third- or fourth-hand story about Stella, I want to stop it but realize that this conversation has gone on too far. At this point I cannot simply break it to Lanny that Stella and I flamed out a couple years ago, ingloriously, irrevocably, and very loudly. Telling Lanny that in the midst of all his story, complete with bodily re-enactment and sound effects, would slap an awkwardness on us that would probably necessitate either Stella or me or more likely both of us excusing ourselves from the party immediately.
So I grin and bear it.
And glance at Stella, whose eyes are fixed on Lanny.
Lanny puts his arm around my shoulder, gives me a good shake and a squeeze.
Someone, please, help me out of this.
Oh, this is delicious!
Lanny wants to introduce me to Steve. I guess Louise didn’t pass along the Stella/Steve story to Lanny or maybe I just edited Steve out of my past. After all, when I met Louise I didn’t want to open with that gory tale. Just as well left out. It was just nice to not have that messy cloud hanging over every conversation. After a while, I guess it would have been too awkward to delve into it, so I just let it rest. After all, Louise and Lanny didn’t know Steve and I back then, so why bring it up?
And now here comes Steve, late for the party and unprepared for what he’s about to step into.
Thanks, Lanny, for that wonderful introduction.
My, Steve, speechless? That’s a switch.
That’s right, Lanny, keep on going, this is all sounding good. I’ll neither confirm nor deny these glorious stories. Kudos to you or Louise, whoever added all these embellishments. You draw such a delightful picture of me that I hardly recognize myself.
Steve, I can feel you looking at me but you’re on your own, pal. Lanny is too deep into the Stella stories now for you to tell him how well we already know each other and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop him. He’s on a roll. Stop him? Ha! Eat shit, you little prick! After all those nasty things you said about me? Acting like you were perfect, Mr. Holier-Than-Thou.
No, I’m enjoying this too much.
Ah, there’s Steve, more than fashionably late, but, hey, that’s okey-dokey. Being the great host that I am, I’ll just usher old Stevie over and make the introduction. Stella’s been prepped with the “new friend I’d like you to meet” to whet her appetite and pique her curiosity. From across the room she’ll have a chance to view this guy as I bring him over to her. Piece of cake.
Come on, Steve, over here, there’s someone Louise and I would like you to meet. You’ll love her. Louise has told me some wonderful things about her.
Stella, this is Steve, the guy I was telling you about. Steve, this is Stella.
Steve’s look says it all. Mouth open, at a loss for words. Let’s move this forward.
Louise has told me quite a bit about Stella. An impressive young woman, Steve-o. Let me tell you a bit about her.
Both you guys kind of quiet, huh? That’s okay, I can keep this conversation going until one of your brains kicks in. Stella, you keep your eyes on me and Steve, you keep eyeing Stella and I’ll keep chipping away at the ice. That’s okay, how about another story? There’s plenty more where that came from.
I can do this all night, if that’s how long it takes. After all, I’m game for a challenge. Besides, this is a lot more fun that trying to entertain Louise’s boring friends.