Setting as Backstory


This is a challenge I set to myself after a casual comment from a writer I'm working with about how she might show the character's frugality through a description of her house. It reminded me of "storytelling through the world," which is a concept that comes up in game design. Let the world tell the story, and let your player (or reader) explore it in their own way.

So, here's my attempt at something like that.

***

A lonely box of noodles sat on the counter, waiting patiently to be used in preparation for a meal. He noticed that the space around the box was clean, but the stove next to it was still splattered with at least two colors of sauce from previous meals. The stains were dry. Absently, he reached up to turn off the light and the fan, which made the room feel more restful. The mess wasn't highlighted anymore, and the quiet soothed him.

Remembering her invitation to help himself, he peeked into the pantry. It was well-stocked with dry beans, bags of rice, chips, jars of artichoke hearts, cans of tomatoes, and boxes of granola bars. Almost everything was an ingredient, and the ones that weren't had bright orange stickers advertising "$2 off!" or "CLEARANCE." A bunch of green bananas hung on a hook near the door, and a bowl of apples sat on the shelf nearby.

He snagged one and left the kitchen, polishing it on his shirt as he peered around her living room. The couch and armchair were mismatched flower print, old fashioned and very well broken-in. Small blankets of fleece or wool hung over the back of the couch, forming an obscuring rainbow of green and blue and brown that nearly blocked the cold fireplace from view. The hearth was scattered with ashes, but the grate was prepped with kindling and crumpled paper.

After a moment, he shook his head and turned his attention to the grand piano. It was shiny and dustless, the lid propped open and music neatly arranged on the stand, as though she were ready to play in just a moment. He wondered if it was always like that.

He heard her footsteps descending the stairs, the old wood creaking and squeaking as she came. Quickly, he returned to the kitchen and took a big bite out of the apple, feeling somehow embarrassed about the possibility of getting caught poking around in a house that wasn't his.

***

So I guess my question is: what sort of person lives in that house? :) Did I do it right?

If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments, feel free to let me know! Feedback is dearer to me than... than chocolate! Gosh, I think that might even be true. :)

#Story #Character

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