Word.a.Day #2 – An exercise in character development

A new word was sent to my inbox this morning and thanks to a whole lot of sudden inspiration, stories just waiting to be burst from the enclosures of my mind have just streamed out.  I’m sure this pace won’t last, but I’ll make the most of it while it does.

Now the point really started off as using the Word.a.Day as a theme for the story, from which characters can be developed.  Today’s word, however, I thought would be simple enough to base a story around, but it ended up being only a minor player in this segment.  Though it’s a build on characters I introduced in my segment yesterday, I can say without a doubt that there isn’t a lot of plot progression yet.  I’ve always noticed that the set up drives my writing at first rather than the plot.  Having said this, I’m excited to see where the next few sessions of writing exercises take this story.



MEANING: noun: A payment, such as a tip or bribe.


“Mr. Devonshire,” a tall man in a well-tailored navy pin-stripe suit and sleekly combed hair, said with confidence, “Please follow me.  Our hostess will show you and your party to the table we’ve arranged for you. I deeply apologize for the wait.”

“I should say so,” Mr. Devonshire retorted firmly but not angrily.

Jack picked up his cranberry martini to take with him.  “Leave it.  They’ll bring you a fresh one at the table,” Mr. Devonshire gestured with one hand aimed down at the coffee table and the other towards the man in the well-tailored suit and sleekly combed hair.  Jack put down the glass.

The four men were led out from the lounge area where they’d been sipping on complimentary cocktails and relaxing on dark brown leather arm-chairs for the past 10 minutes.  Relaxing—more like pretending to relax, Jack thought.  The group made their way past polished round oak tables, some in booth form on one side, made of the same leather as in the lounge.  Men, their companions and business associates ate their steaks and drank their wine in dimmed light while another well-dressed man sat behind a baby grand piano, skilfully playing a jazzy number Jack didn’t recognize.  As they kept walking further and further through the maze of tables, he wondered where he would be spending the next few hours and whether they would be uncomfortable, exciting or relaxed.

“I hope this is to your satisfaction, Mr. Devonshire,” the hostess said politely as she laid the menus on the table.

“Yes, thank you,” he replied with a commanding smile and handed her a non-descript white envelope, which she took in both hands without a thank you.  Odd, thought Jack, but no one else seemed to acknowledge this.  It must have been a tip, he assured himself.

The table was large and round, like the others, on which were settings for four including crystal glassware and polished silverware on serviettes with a classy gold stitching.  A centrepiece of white lilies was surrounded by four candles.  It was situated in the further-most corner from where they’d come in from the lounge.  A long wall with tasteful gothic flower print and a floor-to-ceiling window which overlooked the city cornered the table.  Jack gravitated toward the window and gazed out in awe at the office towers across the street about with random lights shining from their windows, showing life was happening elsewhere too.  He wished he were out there instead of in here.

“It’s a magnificent view, isn’t it?” Mr. Devonshire remarked to Jack.  “It always keeps me coming back.”

Jack smiled and nodded before taking his seat beside him.  The menu in front of him was a booklet bound also in leather, with a frilly swank font, possibly Palace Script, he wondered.  He knew then and there he probably wouldn’t recognize any of the items on it, but testing knowledge of French cuisine wasn’t the point of this meeting, he was sure.

Immediately, the waiter appeared with a fresh martini for Jack, a pint of Keith’s for Eddie, a gin and tonic for Marco and a glass of some unknown fancy red wine that Jack didn’t catch the name of in lounge for Mr. Devonshire.  The waiter introduced himself as Stefan, before describing the evening’s chef specials and pointing to the wine list for suggestions as to what would complement what.  Jack didn’t pay much attention, opting rather to stick with what he knew instead, despite what would complement his entrée of choice.  Maybe he’d stick with the two-drink limit.  That would be enough to calm his nerves, but also not to make an ass of himself.  He wasn’t sure he could say the same about Eddie.

“This menu might as well be all in Greek.  Maybe it is!”  Eddie chuckled, possibly trying to break the ice.  Eddie never seemed to care much about being subtle.

Mr. Devonshire chuckled politely and suggested the prime rib.  The waiter returned, took the order—Eddie did have the prime rib, medium-rare—and left the table.  Jack knew now the real meeting would begin.  His stomach was in his throat with butterflies desperately trying to escape to freedom.  Maybe he’d reconsider that two-drink limit.

“So boys, I’m glad you accepted my invitation this evening,” Mr. Devonshire’s tone reassured Jack. “I’m sure it came as a surprise.  I’ve been impressed with what your company has done, particularly with Push Candy.  You really have done wonders their public image.”

Hearts accelerated.  Eyes widened.  The boys of Freshmind Media sat up in their chairs with anticipation.  “Thank you so much, sir,” Marco managed to get out from the stun.  Jack nervously smiled and agreed.  He prayed Eddie wouldn’t attempt a high-five and thankfully he didn’t.

Mr. Devonshire took a sip of his wine, looked at each intensely, ending with Jack.  “Now you’re going to do that, times a hundred for NewFoods Inc.  This, boys, is your lucky day.”


About seburnt

I own 4C and teach at University of Toronto. View all posts by seburnt

2 responses to “Word.a.Day #2 – An exercise in character development

  • Mom

    Intersting story Ty but I didn’t get the point. It didn’t captivate my attention as the first story did. However, I probably just misunderstood the last sentence.

    • seburnt

      Hi Mom,
      Thanks for reading the stories… I haven’t had time or motivation to keep writing any since I started working again. These were in my “down” time last year.

      Each one is really part of a larger story perhaps, with the same characters, but mostly these Word-a-Day things were an exercise in character development, not self-contained stories.

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