Character Development

Developing Characters through a Situation

Scene:  A man and a woman are sitting across from each other at a small table in a dimly lit restaurant.

  • Tell why the two are in the restaurant from either the man or woman’s point of view.
  • How does the restaurant look?
  • How does the other person look?
  • What are the sounds, smells, colors that this man (or) woman will notice? 

  The Vegan Ribeye

“Pardon me, are you Jim?”

I turn around and see a slightly overweight woman looking at me. I stand to greet her. “Yes, I am. You must be Monique?”

She pats her greying shoulder-length brown hair and reaches out her hand. “Yes, … yes I am. I’m sorry that I am late.”

Taking Monique’s hand, I guide her around the table and pull out the chair for her. “No problem. I’m glad we could finally meet.” I can’t hold back a cough. What is that perfume you are wearing?

I walk back around the table, sit down, and wipe my dampened hand on my pant leg. I take a swig of my beer and then smile. We look at each other for a couple of minutes before I finally say, “So, after three months we finally meet.”

Monique nods her head. “Yes, I was a nervous wreck today. I’ve never done this before.”

“Me neither,” I respond. “I see you’ve cut your hair.” You don’t look anything like your Facebook picture.

She twirls her finger through her hair. “Yes, about a year or so ago I chopped it all off and stopped coloring it. Do you like it?”

“Yes, … it looks nice, I guess.” What am I supposed to say? I glance around and signal for a waiter. “Would you care for a drink? I’m having a beer, but order whatever you want.”

“Thank you, but I don’t drink.”

When the waiter arrives, Monique orders tea and I order a martini.

“I changed my mind. A martini sounds good.”

She smiles and then looks around the restaurant. When she looks at me again, she laughs.


“Oh, it’s nothing. We’ve been writing each other almost daily for three months now. It’s nice to finally talk.”

The waiter arrives with the drinks and gives us our menus. “I’ll check back in few minutes to see if you have any questions.”

We both stare at our menus. “This is a lovely place you picked, Jim. Do you come here often?”

Looking at the prices, I can’t believe my buddy told me this place was reasonable. “No, this is my first time here, but a friend said the Dungeness Crab is excellent.” And it should be for $32.00.

“Well, I don’t eat seafood. I’m a vegan.”

You’ve got to be kidding me. “Well, I’m certain the waiter can recommend some dishes that will be good.” What other surprises am I in for tonight? I take a gulp of the martini and the vodka burns all the way down.   

When the waiter returns, he asks, “Do you have any questions? Or, can I take your orders?”

I nod to Monique to go ahead. “Yes, this is my first time here. Since I’m a vegan, what would you recommend?”

“Our chef has an excellent vegan dish made with a fresh vegetable medley and if you prefer, she will add pan seared tofu that has a Thai padi flavoring. I hear it is wonderful.”

Monique smiles. “That sounds perfect. Thank you.”

“And for the gentleman?”

“I would like the 12 ounce rib eye, rare, with a stuffed baked potato and green beans.”

“Very good, would you care for an appetizer or side salad?”

I shake my head and Monique also says no.

After the waiter leaves, Monique asks, “Jim, I don’t believe you ever said how long you’ve been divorced?

“Well, my wife and I aren’t–ah–technically–divorced yet.”

“Really? I just assumed … okay, how long before the divorce is final?”

“Ah, we haven’t filed for divorce yet. It’s more like a trial separation.”

“What? How long have you two been separated?”

“Let’s see.” I scratch my chin. “About two months–give or take a couple of days.”

“Monique, where are you going? … Monique?”