Thursday, March 8, 2012

Holding a Pineapple

There exists a short story. I wish I could expound on that a bit, but at the present moment, I can't quite recall the story's title.

No matter, the story itself is unimportant. The important thing is that at one point in the story, the main character knocks on a door. The door opens to reveal a man named Elroy Berdahl; Elroy Berdahl with silver-blue eyes like razor blades who is dressed in work pants and holds in his worn hands a green apple and a paring knife. When Mr. Berdahl first made my acquaintance, it was a lesson in characterization given by my creative writing teacher. After reading Mr. Berdahl's introduction, my teacher asked why the author had given this character a green apple to hold. When someone opens the door holding a green apple rather than anything else in the world they could hold, what does it say about them? Then he gave an off-hand and yet deeply wonderful thought. Allow me to share:

"There are some characters who could open the door holding a pineapple. Elroy Berdahl is not one of them."

Details are such a wonderful part of characterization. When someone with razor eyes opens the door holding a green apple and a paring knife, the readers instantly know this is someone completely different from a character wearing an argyle sweater who opens the door holding a pineapple. (That, by the way, would be my creative writing teacher. Yes, he is that fantastic.) The character didn't even have to speak, and the narrator didn't have to say a word about their past--we know them.

Look around you--what items and images paint a very specific mood or personality trait? Would that person open the door holding a green apple? How about a pineapple?

~ Lizzy
Current word count today: 448
Current song: Faithfully by Journey
Current quote: "I remember what you wore on the first day / You came into my life and I thought, / Hey, you know, this could be something." ~ Boys Like Girls ft. Taylor Swift [Two is Better than One]


  1. How on Earth is it possible that my best friend could be so wise at such an age? Not that I'm saying you should be stupider or anything, I swear I didn't mean it like that. But wow! You amaze me. Your wisdom is inspiring.

    I've thought about a subject similar to this before, but not all that deep and I know I'm not QUITE as good at this sort of thing as I'd like to be, but it provokes some interesting thoughts.
    I, personally, would be the one holding a book. Yes.

    As a side note, I wish I could have a creative writing teacher that cool, but alas, 'tis not so. Could be, if I actually TOOK a creative writing class.

  2. I have something for you on my blog!