There are two basic ways to tell readers about your characters. Indulge me as I provide an autobiographical illustration.
The door to the hotel room clanked shut. I set my briefcase down and rubbed my eyes. I was in town for 36 hours, visiting business acquaintances, meeting a few old friends, and inspecting some real estate. Every minute was planned up until I flew out the following night.
I took a shower and marveled as I dried off at how one could make a towel so scratchy without it actually becoming sandpaper. I brushed along my gum line and carefully flossed each tooth. Then I got into bed. Like some great gravitational pull, fatigue began to drag me down.
My eyes popped open. An alarm -- I couldn’t sleep in. I flicked on the bedside light. The clock radio on the dresser looked older than the room itself, studded with such a multitude of buttons and knobs that it virtually ensured that I’d set it incorrectly. I got up, got my cell and turned its alarm to just before sunrise. I went back to bed.
A minute passed. Then I found myself inspecting my cell, making sure I hadn’t turned the ringer off, moving it right next to the bed. A few more minutes staring at the ceiling before I was finding my PDA, setting its alarm and putting it clear on the opposite side of the room. Back to bed, lights off, head on pillow.
I awoke four times that night, clawing for my cell, certain I’d somehow missed its warning.
Or consider the second option.
It had been a long trip up here and the next day looked busy. Every minute was scheduled. When I got into the hotel room, I carefully set two alarms before going to bed, which shows I’m a little Type A, I suppose. Despite being exhausted, I was so worried about missing my morning appointments that I kept waking up in the night.
Your preference, dear readers?
(Picture: CC 2007 by seanmcgrath)