Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What Your Stuff Says About You

Alison Pearce is hosting a fun blogfest today. There's still time to join, if you're interested. Let me know if you join and I'll be sure to read your stuff.
Here's Alison's description of the blogfest: You need to describe a setting that tells us something about your character's personality. Characters can be of any age, living in any time or place. But don't tell us about the character, tell us about his or her stuff. We'll get to know the character from what you write.
I just so happen to have a perfect scene from my new novel Hunger to use for this. I'd like you to guess the gender of the character from this description. 
My room was just like it was before I left: bland and dirty. Old dust had gotten sticky and turned to grime on all the surfaces. The bedding smelled like cigarettes and the floor smelled faintly of vomit. Aparently the last tenant had no desire to clean. I wondered if Alex purposefully put disgusting tenants in my usual room just to bother me.
I bent down under the bed and pulled out a heavy metal chest. Everything I owned was still there. I opened the windows to let in as much light as humanly possible, even though it let in a sharp, chilling breeze. I got to work.
The featureless room bored me to the point of nausea, so I filled it with color. Every time I see a poster, a picture, or anything else colorful, I buy it. I unrolled my large collection of vivid posters and pasted them like wallpaper to every surface in the room. I had everything from Van Gough to tropical frogs, from Hindu temples to sunsets. The color encircled me until within my dreary surroundings, I had an oasis of life. Next I unpacked my books and arranged them in tall stacks on my grimy dresser. I had to put some of them on the floor so they wouldn't topple over.
Now I'm off to read everyone else's posts. I'm excited to see what everyone wrote.


  1. I say the character is female, but I don't know if that's because the author is female or because of the brightly colored posters. Somehow, I don't see a male character filling the room with color and life. But I don't know why. Terrible stereotype, I suppose. :) This was great--thanks for participating!

  2. I'm with Alison, I'd say female. She's trying to fill her life with as much color as she can, even if it's superficial--makes me wonder about her more. Where had she been? And why was she back? I see a teenager or young girl.

  3. Danget. It's a male. Other people have mentioned that I have trouble writing from male POVs. I guess filling a room with color IS a feminine thing to do.

  4. Fellow blogfest participant here, making the rounds.
    This is a very vivid passage, and really evokes the senses. Especially the sense of smell, I can really recall the acidic tang of vomit. Yuck! But in a good way. I can see why the character would like to fill the room up with color and life.

  5. I thought it was a female too because she was disgusted at the filth. I do have to say that this was a hard one and could easily go either way.

  6. I got a female sense too, I'm afraid. I thought female from the way they just quietly accepted that their room had been used by someone disgusting. I just felt like a guy would have confronted his landlord more.
    The colourful posters give the impression of someone who dreams of somewhere better than they are currently; someone with ambitions.

  7. Hmm, interesting... (and very helpful, thank you). I'm starting to think that if readers knew the character better, this scene would make sense. But it's an opening scene. Maybe I should fix that (or maybe this helps us get to know his character... oh, I just don't know).

    He's stuck in this place, and he's sophisticated, so it disgusts him. Maybe it still sounds feminine, though. I'll work on that.

  8. Hi,

    I think it's a soldier or traveller returned, it has to be male because a woman would have cleaned the room before placing items in it. The posters I'm guessing a reflection of places visited! Although sickened by the state of the room I don't think he intends being there very long. ;)


  9. Sounds like some sort of a boarding house, or maybe even grotty student housing (posters made me think of that)(and the books)(and the fact that ALL my college rooms had grey walls though thankfully they were very clean and cheery).


  10. I felt male at the beginning but as I read more, I thought female. And I do agree with Francine, I would have cleaned it first. I even thought about that when he started putting books onto the 'grimy' dresser.

  11. I would guess this person is a rather creative/vibrant being, even if their creativity is just shown in a love of colour and reading ;)

    I think this is a female, but I guess I can't be sure. :D

    That was gross, the faint smell of vomit. Ew!

  12. I thought female immediately, but was shocked the character didn't at least wipe off the soot before places his/hers treasured books.

    It wasn't the color thing that made the character sound female. I'm a guy and I love color. The character didn't fill the space like a guy would.

    Do you understand what I mean. He'd be a bit rougher around the edges. I guy wouldn't say "The featureless room bored me to the point of nausea..."

    He'd say something like. "The starkness of this room makes me want to hurl.... I need to do something ,,,,, now where are those cool posters I have? That should do it.

    Remember to try and give a male characters meat. We are not delicate, refined creatures, we can appreciate art and beauty, but it needs to be said more directly.

    I hope this helps. I really like you're writing style. You attention to detail is wonderful, but again think rugged, masculine, broad, meaty ....

  13. blegh! I could smell it! Very vivid and beautiful!

  14. Stopping by from blogfest. I thought male from the heavy metal chest, but the posters did throw me. Great description.

  15. Hmmm, a male who likes does a lot of traveling and has an appreciation for art and beauty. :)

    What do you think of my

  16. See, now the dirt and smell of vomit had made me automatically think it was not a female. I would like to think a girl would have at least dusted before putting her prize books on the nasty dresser. The setting, the smells, the grime had me thinking nasty frat room actually!

  17. Grrr... I'm starting to think he needs to clean the room, but I'm afraid of it masking his only shred of masculinity.

    Men, you suck. Clean your rooms and hang up some colorful posters so I can write this how I want.

  18. Very nice imagery Teralyn. I actually did think it was a male because they didn't clean off the shelves before putting the books on the dresser! A young person going to University or living in a frat house perhaps?

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