Another random idea for a partial story.
This time I couldn’t decide who the protagonist or point-of-view person was, so I just left out the thoughts and reactions and wrote just the sequence of events. This seems to get more dialogue in, and makes the actual events happen faster. However, I alternated between too much detail (which makes the events happen slower to the reader’s point of view) and very little detail. Comparing the ride to the restaurant and the ride back shows the difference in style (probably just based on my boredom with the scene and wanting to get it over with). If I am writing from a certain person’s point of view (rather than an impartial observer) I could probably use the variations in “speed” to reflect whether the person is involved/engaged (and things seem to be happening slowly, lots of time to think, lots of detail) and when they are bored (which can flow a little faster.. no sense in boring the reader too. :) I guess I need to think more about how to adjust the level of the detail and speed of storytelling. Suggestions?
Without a point of view, I didn’t really get across what they were thinking and feeling, mostly because I wasn’t sure, I don’t know these characters well yet, how they met (online, but not sure how) and how they feel about each other. So I took an easy way out and just wrote the events. Might be interesting to go back and put in one person’s point of view and thoughts and see how that changes the scene, and how it changes the word count.
7:47, start writing using the idea “Blind date”
Rick walked up the steps to the apartment numbered 5B and rang the doorbell. He looked down at himself to make sure he didn’t have his fly open or anything like that. He was wearing a gray sweater, blue collared shirt, and light brown slacks.
In a few seconds, a young woman opened the door. She was about five feet eight inches tall, a brunette, and had a blue dress on.
“Hi, Donna?” said Rick in a questioning tone.
“Nope, I’m Julie. Donna’s not ready yet. Please, come on in.”
The apartment was neat and the furniture was nice and new-looking. “I like the place,” said Rick. Rick came in and sat on the couch in front of the TV.
“Thanks. Yeah, most of the stuff is Donna’s. I don’t have much in the way of furniture and it’s all in my room,” she said, pointing down the hall.
“That’s cool. So do you work with Donna?”
“Nope, but I used to, I have been doing various temp assignments. Do you want a glass of water or anything?”
“No, no thank you,” said Rick, holding up his hand, “I’m okay.”
Donna came out, wearing a flower-print dress and a black belt. “Hi, sorry that took so long,” she said.
Rick got up and extended his right hand. “No problem. Good to finally meet you.”
Donna shook his hand. “Yes, good to meet you.”
“Oh, you have a jade tiger on your, uh, thing,” he said, pointing to her necklace pendant. “That’s cute!”
“Oh, thank you. A friend of mine got it for me; that’s sort of how I picked my name.” Donna opened the door. “Okay, I’m ready if you are.”
“Sure, we can go.” He turned to Julie and extended a hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” said Julie, shaking his hand. “Have fun.”
Rick went out the door and Donna followed, looking back to say, “Okay, we’ll be back about, hmm, I don’t know. Whenever. ”
Julie waved. “See you later. Have fun,” she said, closing the door behind them.
8:14, 311 words
Rick led the way down the stairs, and then walked beside Donna down to the street. He pointed to his car, a silver 280 ZX that looked about five years old. He unlocked the door and opened it for her.
“Thank you,” said Donna. She sat in the car and pulled up the end of her dress while Rick shut the door for her. He then walked around and got in on the driver’s side.
“So our reservations are for 8:00,” he said. “We should be there in time.” He started the car and backed out of the parking space, one of four labelled “Guest Parking Only Please.”
“So what is the place called, again?” Donna asked. “Roberto’s?”
“Yup, that’s right. I’ve only been there once but it was pretty nice.” He reached the end of the driveway and asked, “What’s the best way to get on the freeway from here?”
“Okay, go left here, and then right at the next one,” she said, pointing left. “That will take us there.”
8:32, 513 words. Pee break. Got my drink. 14 minutes.
Rick turned left. “Yup, it’s a pretty nice place. A friend of mine and work told me about it and we went there for lunch one time. It’s an Italian place.”
“Sounds good,” Donna said. She looked at him and smiled.
They rode in silence for a few blocks, until Rick turned onto the freeway and merged. Then, Rick said, “So where is it that you work, again?”
“What?” said Donna. She didn’t hear him due to the car noise getting louder.
“Where do you work, again?” said Rick, a little louder.
“Oh, I’m a receptionist at a veterinary office.”
“I remember you said that. I mean, where is the office?”
“Oh. It’s a couple miles, over the other side of the freeway, the opposite direction from my house. It’s called Cat Doctor.” Donna looked over at Rick and brushed her hair behind her ear with her left hand.
“That’s cool; it’s nice and close,” Rick said, looking at her briefly and then back at the road. There were relatively few people on the road and Rick was passing most of them, staying in the second lane from the left.
“Yeah, it’s nice. My school is about half an hour away though.”
“Oh, yeah, do you go there every day?”
“No, only three nights a week. I’m going for my Veterinary Assistant’s certificate, so it should take about another year.”
“That’s great. Do you think they will hire you there, where you work now? As a vet assistant, I mean.”
“Probably, I’m not sure if I will want to stay there, the doctor is kind of annoying sometimes.”
“Oh, that’s too bad.”
9:09, 785 words
“So how about you? How are things at the hardware store?”
“Pretty OK. I am the assistant regional manager, so I get to drive around a lot. We have 6 stores in the area.”
“That’s cool. Do you go to a different one every day?”
“No, some days I stay in the office, and some days I drive to a couple places, depending on where they need me. Some is desk work, like making reports or looking at products. Sometimes I go to a store if the store manager is gone, just to check in and help them if they need it. Some of the assistant managers have trouble working the computer, for the inventory and cash control. Things like that.”
“No, it’s not that interesting, really. I’m never going to be regional manager, it seems, the local regional manager is the son-in-law of the owner. So I’m kind of stuck unless I want to move. So I’m casually looking around for other jobs.”
“Ah, that’s too bad.”
9:20, 955 words. 7 min break, plus 2 min to read the previous dialogue and figure out how long it took to say all that.
They were quiet for another minute or so. Rick went right at the next exit and the car noise got quieter as they slowed down, then stopped at a traffic light.
Donna spoke up, “So I didn’t ask you, how did you get your nickname, ‘Bander?'”
9:38, make another midori sour for miche, 4 min
“Oh, it was a nickname from high school. I’m not really sure where it started, but a lot of my friends call me that.”
“I almost asked for J.T. when I came to the door, but I stopped myself.”
“Oh, that’s all right, a lot of my friends call me Jade or Tiger. It’s cool.”
They pulled up at the restaurant and parked. Rick came around to open the door, but Donna had already opened it, so he offered a hand to help her up. He closed the door behind her and they walked to the entrance.
9:50, 1100 words.
Roberto’s was a pretty nice place. The tables were set with no tablecloth, but there were cloth napkins, and each table had a candle and a bottle of olive oil and vinegar. The hostess saw them and said, “Hello, how are you this evening?”
“Pretty good,” said Rick. “We have a reservation for Rick, for two.”
“Okay… eight o’clock, you’re a little early but I think I can seat you now. Mmm, okay.” She made a mark on her table chart with a grease pencil and said, “Right this way please.”
Rick stepped aside and allowed Donna to go first. They were led to a booth almost all the way to the back. Donna sat with her back to the wall and Rick sat opposite her.
“Tonight we have a couple of specials, one is a trout filet, broiled and served with a caper cream sauce. The other is a linguini with Italian pork sausage and a red sauce.” She handed menus to Donna and Rick while speaking. “And the soup tonight is a cream of potato with rosemary, or minestrone. Your server should be right with you, enjoy your meal.”
“Thank you,” said Rick, as the hostess smiled and walked away.
Above six paragraphs (202 words) probably could have been shortened to this (36 words):
Roberto’s was a pretty nice place. As it turned out, they were about 10 minutes early, but they were seated right away. The hostess told them about a couple of specials, and then left them alone.
But I need the word count, so I’ll use both, subject to editing later. But I will probably shift to a less detailed style.
10:22: 1345 words. 4 min break.
* * *
They ordered dinner, and then talked about nothing in particular, weather, current events, etc. The server brought a salad for Donna and a bowl of soup for Rick, and they ate quietly for a few minutes.
Then Donna asked, “So, how long ago were you divorced?”
“Oh, almost four years now. That’s actually about how long we were married, actually.”
“Oh. Did you have any kids?”
“Nope, she wanted to, but I wasn’t sure. I think that’s one of the reasons she left. Well, that and she had met some other guy at work.”
“Oh, that’s too bad. I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Well I guess it was to be expected, we hadn’t been as close for the last year or so. I met her at the store while I was store manager, and then I got the job at the regional office. It was about the same pay but better hours and not as stressful. But after that we didn’t see each other at work very much, and she was still working odd hours a lot of the time.”
“Hmm. I see what you mean.”
“Yeah, she met some other guy and they hit it off I guess. She told me she wanted to leave me.”
“I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have brought it up.”
“No, it’s okay, really. Anyway, he got another job and they moved away to Reno together, but she broke up with him after that and went back to live with her mother.”
“But enough about me, what about you? Were you ever married?”
“Nope.” Donna turned her head and adjusted her hair. “No, I came close to it once, but the guy had to move and I didn’t want to move with him. Army Sergeant. I didn’t want to leave here, because I have family around here.”
“Hmm. How long ago was that?”
“About two years. I was working at the recruiting office doing filing. That was pretty boring.”
The main course was served, fettucine alfredo for him, and chicken with mashed potatoed for her. They ate in silence for a minute or two.
Rick said, “So do you enjoy working with animals?”
“Oh, yeah. I want to have cats but we’re not allowed to have them in the apartment.”
“Really? Why not?”
“Something about damage to the place, they don’t allow pets at all. Of course, you can have two screaming kids, but no pets.”
“Huh. Your neighbors have kids?” Rick asked.
“Yup, the neighbor next to us has two boys. We call them ‘Screamer’ and ‘Whiner.'”
“Yeah, at least they go to bed at a decent time, usually.”
“Those apartments look kind of small for kids.”
“Sort of. The one they live in is a little bigger, and has 2 bathrooms instead of just the one. But yeah, they probably can’t afford a real house.” Donna put her napkin on the table and got up, saying “I have to use the little girls’ room; I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Okay,” said Rick.
She came back in a few minutes and they ate the rest of their dinner, talking about cats and some of the experiences Donna has had at the vet clinic. They decided not to have any dessert, and Rick paid the check, then they left.
11:28, 1886 words, almost there.
On the way back to Donna’s apartment, Rick talked a bit about his work and the kinds of things he does during the week. Pretty soon they were back at her apartment.
As they were walking up the stairs, Donna said “Well, thank you for dinner. I had a lovely time!”
“You’re welcome,” Rick replied. “Thanks for coming. We should do it again soon.”
“That would be nice. I will see you online, too.”
“Yup, I hope so.”
Donna stopped in front of the door without opening it and turned back to face him. “Thank you again.”
Rick took a step toward her with his arms out and they hugged each other, for about five seconds, then he stepped back again. “My pleasure. See you, J.T.” he said, smiling.
“See you, Bander. Good night.” She turned and went into the apartment.
Rick went down the steps toward his car, whistling a random tune that sounded like “You’re Off To See The Wizard” and smiling.
11:58, done, 2050 words. Stalled a bit on the end deciding what they were going to do.
Rick- retail store manager, hardware store. Nickname “Bander”. Married 4 years, divorced 4 years
Donna- Vet’s receptionist. Nickname “JadeTiger”
Mental note: Too much water is not a good idea; I have to keep getting up to go to the bathroom. It’s a viscious cycle, because I keep getting more to drink when I am up. Maybe smaller glasses would help :)