Point of View in the Lobby

As a matter of improving my writing, I have taken to rewrite a scene to follow only one point of view. The idea here is to use a third-person perspective, with the point of view following multiple characters. While at it, I’ve also moved the scene from present tense (the tense I tend to write ideas in) to past tense (the tense I tend to write solid ideas in).

The only information of interest is that Samuel and Vicky like one another, but something happened that pulled them apart, and things are uncertain between them now. Vicky’s friend, Jenna, has always been at odds with Samuel. Carlyn is a guy Samuel met prior, and they recently ran into one another, and are sharing a hotel room to cut down on expenses while traveling.

What follows is the original scene.

Carlyn sees Vicky and Jenna walking through the lobby at a competition sign-up. He comments on seeing a couple of visions of loveliness, then questions Samuel’s disinterest. “You can at least look,” he tells Samuel.

With a sigh, Samuel looks up from his application form, turning around halfway. He sees Vicky and Jenna off in the distance, causing him to let out a gasp.

“See?” Carlyn says. “Aren’t they lovely? I’d definitely like to get a date with that one.”

“Wh-which one?” Samuel asks.

“Oh, so now you’re interested? The one cute one.”

“Which one?” Samuel repeats.

“I see,” Carlyn says with a sly grin.

“See what?” Samuel asks, confused.

“You like them both so much, they’re both cute to you.”

“That’s not it. It’s just that…”

“The one in the glasses. I think I’ll go ask her out.”

“What? No, you can’t!”

“Samuel, what’s gotten into you?”

“I mean, she looks like she’s doing just fine.”

“So that’s how it is, I see.” Carlyn’s smile turns to devious. “You’re hoping to ask her out, aren’t you? I suggest trying for her friend, unless you want to be my rival. I’m off to take my chances.”

Samuel can only watch as Carlyn hurries over and greets the two.

To Vicky, Carlyn bows. “I would most honored if you would accompany me to dinner tonight, m’lady, so we may get to know one another.”

Jenna asks, “Is he for real?”

Carlyn, still bowing, looks up. “If your beautiful friend would like to double, I have a companion staying with me.”

“Of all the nerve,” Jenna mumbles. “Vicky, just tell this guy off.”

“I…” Vicky starts, unsure of what to say.

Samuel hurries over to Carlyn. “Please, don’t mind him. Carlyn, he just…”

“That explains it,” Jenna says with a scoff. She closes her eyes. “Vicky would be delighted to go out with you. Carlyn, is it?” She opens her eyes, looking at Samuel.

“I..” Vicky begins again. She looks at Samuel’s sorrow-filled face.

Jenna informs Carlyn, “We’ll be ready by half after seven. Don’t be late.” She tugs at Vicky’s arm. “Come on, let’s go.”

When the two are out of view, Carlyn says, “The ball is in your court, Mr. Montgomery. For now, just be ready by seven.”

“Ready by seven? What for?” Samuel gives Carlyn a confused look.

“Didn’t you hear her friend? They’ll both be ready. You’re going on a double date, my friend.”

“But I don’t even have a date!”

“Vicky’s friend is your date. Man, Samuel, you’ve really got to get with the program.”

“There’s no way Jenna would date me,” Samuel proclaims.

“She accepted the double-date knowing rather well you would be her partn–wait, how do you know her name? Why, Mr. Montgomery, you sneak you. You managed to collect information on them already. I guess the real fun begins with dinner.”

As said, for the rewrite below, I’ve decided to switch tenses to what the actual story uses, past tense. However, the main goal was to narrow the point of view to one character. I wanted it to be Samuel Montgomery, but this wouldn’t work out due to the part where Samuel is left behind at the registration counter while Carlyn goes over to talk with the girls.

So, I make the point of view be Carlyn’s. Simple enough. However, there’s one major thing to keep in mind here: Carlyn doesn’t know who Vicky and Jenna are. The last time he was seen in the story was before Samuel had even met the two. Because of this, their names must be kept hidden from the reader, not because the reader shouldn’t know who the two are, but rather because Carlyn doesn’t.

Withholding Jenna’s name throughout the entire scene also makes Carlyn’s line about Samuel knowing her name seem much more believable, as Jenna’s name doesn’t keep coming up in the narrative leading up to it.

Here is the revised draft of the scene:

His back to the registration counter, Carlyn looked around. His eyes fell upon two teenage girls at the other end of the lobby. His eyes followed the two as they moved from person to person. “Would you look at that?”

Samuel gave no response. He continued filling out the competition’s application form.

Carlyn’s eyes continued to watch the girls. “A couple of visions of loveliness like nothing I’ve ever seen.” He looked over to his side, finding Samuel’s focus still on the form. “Disinterest is fine, but you could at least look,” he said.

With a sigh, Samuel looked up. He turned around.

“Over there,” Carlyn told him, pointing to the two.

Samuel looked around in the direction Carlyn pointed. He stopped, letting out an audible gasp, his jaw remaining down a little.

A smile formed on Carlyn’s face. “See?” he said. “Aren’t they lovely?” He looked back at the girls. “I’d definitely like to get a date with that one.”

In a quick movement, Samuel’s head turned toward Carlyn. “Wh-which one?” he asked.

Finding Samuel’s sudden attention humorous, Carlyn looked toward him, while still facing forward. “Oh, so now you’re interested?” he asked. “The cute one, of course.”

A slight shake in Samuel’s hand caused the pen to slip from his fingers. “Which one?” Samuel repeated, taking no notice of the pen hanging from the chain that attached it to the counter.

The smile turned up on one side, becoming a sly grin. “I see,” Carlyn said.

“See what?” Samuel asked.

Carlyn gave Samuel a playful punch against the shoulder. “You like them both so much, they’re both cute to you.”

“That’s not it,” Samuel said as he lifted the clipboard in his hand. He looked around for the pen. “It’s just that…” He found the hanging pen, and took it in his hand.

“The one in the glasses. I think I’ll go ask her out.”

The clipboard hit the ground.

“What? No, you can’t!”

“Samuel, what’s gotten into you?”

“I mean, she looks like she’s doing just fine.”

“So that’s how it is, I see.” Carlyn’s grin turned from sly to devious. “You’re hoping to ask her out, aren’t you? I suggest trying for her friend, unless you want to be my rival. I’m off to take my chances. Try not to leave your application on the ground.”

As he backed away, Carlyn watched Samuel kneel down to pick up the clipboard with his unfinished application. Carlyn then turned in the other direction, and pushed his way through the crowd. He soon found himself face-to-face with the girls.

To the girl wearing glasses, Carlyn bowed. “I would most honored if you would accompany me to dinner tonight, m’lady, so we may get to know one another.”

“Is he for real?” the other girl said.

Still bowing, Carlyn looked up. “If your beautiful friend would like to double, I have a companion staying with me.”

“Of all the nerve,” the other girl mumbled. “Vicky, just tell this guy off.”

“I…” The girl in glasses closed her mouth.

Hearing hasty footsteps approaching, Carlyn stood upright.

Samuel stopped by Carlyn’s side. “Please, don’t mind him. Carlyn, he just…”

The other girl scoffed at Samuel’s words. “That explains it,” she said. Tilting her head aside, she closed her eyes. “Vicky would be delighted to go out with you. Carlyn, is it?” She opened her eyes, looking right at Samuel.

“I..” the girl in glasses, Vicky, began again. She looked at Carlyn’s wide-eyed face, then at Samuel’s face, a face filled with sorrow.

The other girl’s arm stretched out in front of Vicky, pushing her back just a little. “We’ll be ready by half after seven,” she informed Carlyn, “Don’t be late.” She gave a tug at Vicky’s arm. “Come on, let’s go.”

It wasn’t until the two were out of view when something was said. Carlyn spoke the first words. “The ball is in your court, Mr. Montgomery. For now, just be ready by seven.”

The look on Samuel’s face conveyed the confusion Carlyn by now expected it to. “Ready by seven? What for?”

“Didn’t you hear her friend? They’ll both be ready. You’re going on a double date, my friend.”

“But I don’t even have a date!”

“This girl, Vicky, her friend is your date. Man, Samuel, you’ve really got to get with the program.”

“There’s no way Jenna would date me,” Samuel proclaimed.

“She accepted the double-date knowing very well you would be her partn–wait, how do you know her name? Why, Mr. Montgomery, you are such a sneak! You managed to collect information on them already. I guess the real fun begins with dinner.”

It needs a lot more work, true. Still, I think limiting the scope of the point of view to Carlyn improves the scene. Further improving can really bring out Carlyn’s personality. His first appearance in the story builds him up as a true friend. His second appearance (taking place before the events including this scene) show him to go a strong ally. Starting with this scene, he’ll find himself in a position where he can either stand by Samuel’s side, or turn his back to him, and work against him. Whatever action Carlyn takes, his interactions with Samuel leading up to now, and his actions here, and what follows, must all support the action in the end.

Oh, and I started adding more things to build up the backdrop, mostly with the pen and the clipboard. There’s a lot more work to be done in the props and backgrounds department.

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