I'm trying to figure a way to work smarter at my job. I'm nowhere near making the kinds of stories I want to make, so I'm trying to figure ways I can become markedly better. To start with, I'm re-reading old journalism narrative guides. The first -- "Stalking the Feature Story" -- urges writers to get in the habit of writing scenes. Not just when you're on a story, but always. To be in the habit of deliberately writing down all details. To paint a scene. I'm especially bad at physical descriptions, so I want to work on that. What do people look like, how do they move, how do they sound, how do they sit still (because, does anyone ever?). To that end, I'm working on a little journalism 101 project -- chronicling my bus rides. Here's my first attempt. It is super light on all those physical descriptions, but I'm just trying to start. It's from two minutes of my ride from the gym to my apartment.
Bus Chronicle No. 1 -- the 77-Broadway-Halsey
The oversized boy could be anywhere between 20 and 40, depending on his growth rate. He has a full mustache, but his skin lacks any wrinkles.
"I don't go out much," he tells the woman next to him. "And if I do, it takes me a while to open up to people."
He's wearing shorts on a 45-degree day. He wears hiking boots and a windbreaker. His teeth aren't any more crooked than anyone's, but they aren't straight either. His hair grows in pointed angled tufts that could go Eraserhead, if only he'd let it shoot.
"She's already my best friend, so I thought ..." he trails off.
"When we go out to dinner, she always pays $5 or $10 more than her half," he says. "She doesn't have to love me, mom. She can just like me."
His mom raises an eyebrow, repositions her purse.
"It's true. Love is unconditional. But you build up to it. I mean, she loves me in a way already."
"She's not very affectionate," he says. "Like, she won't hold my hand, and she doesn't touch people's arms when she talks. But she's friends with all her ex-boyfriends. She's just a really great person."
His mother moves her purse again. Thirty seconds pass.
"I haven't ... yet," he says. "Right now I'm still ... I just wanted to let you know."