Friday, December 01, 2006

Five Ways

How many different ways can you write the same scene? Given a specific scenario from my trusty 3 AM Epiphany book and tasked with writing five different takes, I came up with the following. This actually is a fantasy excerpt - I've used Sophie and the Mermaid in exercises before - but you can't tell here. Potentially if I went on and he turned into a wolf or somesuch. ;-) Starting with "normal," moving to staccato and ...

Sophie moved across the Mermaid Café on lifted toes, looking for a spot to sit. It was unusually crowded for a Tuesday. She took a step forward and hit the edge of a potted plant. The tray jerked in her hands as she tumbled forward. Her foot hopped ahead to support her at the last second, and she breathed a sigh of annoyed relief. She noticed a dapper blond man seated at one of the few tables that wasn't crowded, his eyes fixed on her. As soon as he saw her looking, he flashed a broad smile and nodded to the seat across from him. Sophie approached with care: if he was patronizing the Mermaid, he was more than he seemed.

The Mermaid, Tuesday, jammed. Sophie on her toes, scanning for a seat. A sudden encounter with a potted plant - a snap of the tray - and freefall before her foot came down with a crunch. An exasperated sigh. The sense of eyes on her ... a dapper blond man. Isolated, a man alone, but smiling as he noticed her. He nodded to the seat across from him. Sophie advanced carefully; she knew there was something under his surface.

Sophie sidled and ducked through the Mermaid Café, sometimes strategically popping onto her toes to look for an island in the chaos. Tuesday, usually a sleepy day, burst at the seams. She lost track of one shuffle-step and collided with a florid vases of dyed roses. Momentum sent her spinning forward, the tray gyrating in her hands. Her foot slid, accidentally balletic, to catch her fall. She huffed out an exasperated sigh. Then her eyes lighted on an elegant blond man, all signature lines; his lips broadened into a smile as he bowed his head, acknowledging her and inviting her to sit in the same motion. Sophie picked her way over diffidently, wary, knowing that the Mermaid's patrons didn't fish in normal ponds.

It happened something like this, mid-day roundabouts the middle of the week, with the Mermaid Café about ninety percent full. Somewhere between one step and the next, Sophie slammed a foot forward to balance herself, bumped into something in a pot that might have been a fern, might have been roses, and nearly lost her tray - not necessarily in that order. She sighed, eyes rolling up in her head. When they rolled down, they ended up in the vicinity of a dapper man - his hair somewhere between silver and yellow - who grinned, or perhaps smirked at her; the expression could have gone either way, though his cheerful nod had only one interpretation: an invitation to sit. She sauntered up more than anything else, ill at ease. You couldn't be sure of anything in the Mermaid. Usually.

A chique café off the beaten path on a sleepy Tuesday. People jammed elbow to elbow. Sophie, sophisticated, sleek, reduced to a fine simmer as she arched onto her toes. The crazy rock of a vase as she hit it with her hip. The tray askew in her hands before she had time to think about it, her usual grace turned upside down. Then back on her feet again, intermission over, the movie of her life playing smoothly again. Freeze-frame, an attractive blond man at one table. Lips just a tiny bit askew, one side higher than the other; a perfect chin on the downturn of a nod. And Sophie caught with one foot half-turned against the ground, pondering light in her eyes. A snapshot of her thoughts: anyone in the Mermaid shouldn't be taken at face value.

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