Time to see some characters’ bedrooms!
On Tuesday we talked about your character’s bedroom. I’m going to give my own example, and I encourage you to check how much I let the reader know about my character, William Flynn.
We’re actually focusing on two skills at once here – developing setting descriptions AND character building! My goal is to try to tell a few things I think you need to know about William Flynn while describing his personal space as well.
Feel free to give me feedback – how could I give more detail about the room and Flynn’s personality without adding too many words? How could I add more sensory detail in the room description?
Look for the same criticism in your own work, and please post a sample as a reply or post a link to your own blog.
All right then, here’s what I have. I present William Flynn’s bedroom:
The door swings open, and a hint of newspaper greets my nose. I look to the bed first, surprised to see the newspapers strewn across the worn blanket. The New York Times catches my eye first, with the proclamation MEN WALK ON MOON in stark black text. The paper is crisp and white, as if the two-century-old story were printed yesterday. I pick up the reprint, the paper curling around my hands. It was real paper. Flynn had gone to great lengths, no doubt, to obtain a copy close in look and feel to the originals that were stored away in museums around the world. I put the paper down and look to those next to it. Headlines from the Apollo program stand out in black text, along with more colorful reproductions detailing the establishment of Luna Colony and the missions that brought people to Mars.
Under the papers are signs of a worn, dull brown blanket and an off-white pillowcase with a deep indent in its middle. The dull blue walls of the room are nearly hidden by the framed magazines and newspapers hang all over. Time, Life, Newsweek, People, and less recognizable magazines from around the world. Valentina Tereshkova, Neil Armstrong, Yang Liwei – faces I recognize and some I don’t, but all are explorers and discoverers.
The wall over Flynn’s desk is taken up by a SmartPaper display, the modern device a direct contrast to the analogue newspapers it shares the room with. The white SmartPaper is covered with front pages of online newspapers and news blogs, and I notice among the half-hazard cluster of windows that most are written by well-established reporters for popular newspapers. A few are very old – one is a newspaper article following the fallout of Watergate – a scandal I know only by its inclusion in high-school History classes. Others are more recent, such as one blog covering the restoration of the Mars Pathfinder in the newly-opened Museum of Martian Exploration. At the very bottom of the screen, directly in line-of-sight for one sitting at Flynn’s chair, are articles by Flynn himself – mostly interviews with key personnel in various Ulysses Spaceflight programs.
The desk is a WorkSmart, a mid-range holographic computer and workspace. Unlike most WorkSmart products, this has an actual analogue keyboard in front of Flynn’s office chair, instead of the usual black touchscreen interface that can become a keyboard, notepad, or any other input surface needed. As I approach the WorkSmart, it automatically awakes, filling the air above the glossy black surface of the desk with a hologram of the UASC Valentina Tereshkova, one of several colony ships due to leave Lunar space for the Tau Ceti system next week.
Black spots flicker in the image of the ringed spaceship, and I look back down to the desk. Crumbs of cookies and pastries litter the desk, outlined by the bright beams of the holographic projectors just under the glass surface. A half-empty coffee cup sits next to an honest-to-god QWERTY keyboard at the edge of the desk next to Flynn’s office chair. It is a replica of an ancient typewriter, with many small crumbs encrusted in the spaces between keys.