Yves Brown McClain: Literary Fierceness

Who Am I? An exercise in character-building

Posted by Dahlia on February 25, 2011

Last night in my writing class, we had an exercise in character-building. We were presented with a list of people, places, or things to describe from various viewpoints. It was from the viewpoint we would build the character.  We couldn’t just say “I am a child at a campsite” – that would be too easy. Below is my exercise. I had to describe a car’s interior from the viewpoint of a…well, I hope you can figure it out. Happy Friday! 🙂

Vanilla. She had to pick the most horrid scent in the pack. As soon as I open the door, the smell hits me with enough force to make me take a step back. That’s probably why she picked it. To keep me away. Everything about this car I’m sure was chosen as a repellant to keep me away. She claims it’s the good gas mileage, but I know it’s to keep me from driving it. But, here I am, forced to get behind the wheel because mine is in the shop and they didn’t have a loaner for me.

I let the seat back as far as it’ll go. I manage to get in, but I know it’s going to take the jaws of life to pry me out. At least it’s clean. She knows I can’t stand a dirty car. Smooth gray leather seats shine from the leather treatment from its last trip to the detailer. Not a speck of dust on the dash and the floor mats are freshly vacuumed. I do a double take. When in the hell did she get Hello Kitty floor mats? I yank the pink sunflower from the tiny dash-mounted vase. I’m not driving around anywhere with a pink sunflower. I want to toss it out the window, but she’ll never let me hear the end of it if I do, so I put in the glovebox instead.

I fire up the ignition and immediately crank up the AC. As soon as I do, I start to gag. This woman’s got vanilla air fresheners attached to the vents and now the smell is burning my nostrils. That’s it. I’m going to get a rental. There’s no way I can be seen driving around town in this for the next few days. I barely fit, there’s a pink flower in it, and it smells like the inside of a Dairy Queen. So not pimping.


ADDED: Are you able to tell:
1. Who the character is?
2. What the relationship is between the character and the car’s owner?
3. BONUS: what kind of car is it?
I will answer in the next post…


14 Responses to “Who Am I? An exercise in character-building”

  1. very good – get a very good sense of both people in this – and I so hate the smell of some of those fresheners myself!!!

  2. Nicely done. The character pov is a tall black man? Probably in his twenties or early thirties.

  3. Lydia K said

    I feel nauseated from your scent descriptions. Nice job!

  4. You did a very good job….

  5. This was great. Super funny and totally realistic. I was able to picture the entire lovely scene. Nice job.

    ❤ Gina Blechman

  6. Michael said

    Is the car a small Volkswagon?

  7. Gen said

    sounds like a teenager driving his mother’s car.
    I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t drive around with a pink sunflower either. And I also hate the smell of vanilla air fresheners.

  8. great character building. I can already see that he is tall without you saying so. I guess he’s an adult male, and the car owner is either his sister or friend/love interest.

    Lovely blog too, came from eagle eye.

  9. Tall man, mother is the car owner. I am going to guess… Ford Festiva.


  10. My husband would love the car – at least its smell!

    I would say it’s a brother driving -only siblings can find such annoying things to be frustrated with – when someones doing them a favor. College age at least – has a credit card to get a rental.

    Don’t know any car that comes with a mounted vase. But I want to say thats the hint. He didn’t have to unplug it so all the greenies are out. Has to let the seat all the way back and still too small – not any kind of sports car -or he’d not be so opposed to being seen in it. Must not be new – it needs air fresheners.
    Has to be one of the dinky dorkmobiles or a chick car. Neon -Lecar -Nano – Smart -Mini Cooper or
    chick car of the century – VW bug!
    Old chick car only leaves bug?

    That was fun – I like your puzzle!

  11. Regina said

    What a wonderful exercise that they have you doing. It seems like it helps. I’m guessing someone tall, possibly male and an older woman’s car.

  12. […] Thanks for your feedback on the character-building exercise post. I was tasked with describing the interior of a car from the viewpoint of a man getting into his […]

  13. […] the past week I have to given you my two cents on pen names and sharing WIPs, lied to you, made you guess the driver of a VW Beetle, signed up for another blogfest (I get the feeling blogfests are like tattoos – once you get one, […]

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