#StartWritingFiction: Heightening Observation

Next up in my Start Writing Fiction course is expanding that character study we wrote last week. We’re supposed to include more details that we observed.

Lauren: A Character Study

The sound of pebbles being kicked and scattered along the edge of the street is the only warning she has that someone is coming. It’s a late summer day, afternoon moving into evening, and the air is warm and dry. Lauren quickly looks up from her phone, squinting as her eyes adjust to the brighter outdoor light. She hunches down a bit toward the arm of the old, scratched-up blue couch she’s sitting on, but after a moment, the noise is revealed to be just a stranger taking a walk. Still, she feels the thrill of getting away with something, a shiver on the back of her neck. The garage she sits in is bathed in oncoming shadows, and the glow from her phone lights up her face with a pale shine. Rocky, her staunch Rottweiler, barks a fierce warning from the treadmill, unconsciously speeding up as if to chase the near-trespasser off. Now, suddenly out of sync with the quick-moving belt, he stumbles briefly before regaining his steady pace.

She wonders if perhaps she should not have tied Rocky’s leash to the grip bar with so little give. What if he fell? Just as quickly as she thinks it, she dismisses it. Rocky will be fine. The sound of his panting breath fills the garage; he needs the exercise, the vet said he was putting on weight, and she has to beat this level of Candy Crush before Aunt Sally does. The stranger on the street slows, frowns, but doesn’t stop. Obviously disapproving. Lauren feels a slight tremor of self-consciousness, far below the surface of awareness. She hunches a bit more toward the edge of the bench, wishes the garage door worked so she could close it. She tugs her too-tight gray yoga pants up on her waist, pulls at the sleeves of her tee shirt. It says “Shut Up & Work Out.” It’s a little too small, too.

Rocky finally stops barking; the stranger has moved on. Lauren finishes her level and switches apps to check Rocky’s step count. A bar chart, with the yellow spike of a progress line. Not quite at the magic 10,000, yet, but Lauren’s name is inching toward the top of her coworkers’ weekly challenge. “Good boy, Rocky,” she says. He looks at her, dog-smile, tongue flopping out. Her Fitbit bounces against his chest where she’s tied it to his spiked collar.

I think this now has too many details, but whatever, exercise accomplished!

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