Sample Scene 2

A Sample ‘Opening’ Scene

This is the Opening Scene from a business novel I ghostwrote for a European leadership trainer. The full story chronicles the the growth and development of Michael Weber, a self-centred and undisciplined young businessman, one who is concerned primarily with his own opportunities and pleasures. Through a series of challenging experiences, he discovers the limitations of his outlook and approach to life. Through gifted mentorship and the application of particular principles (those of the leadership trainer), Michael matures in his relationships at work and at home and leaves a legacy worthy of his opportunities and his teacher.

This opening scene contains much expository detail, including:

  • the key characters of Michael and Anne 
    • Michael’s sales occupation; his aggressive, self-centred personality; his womanizing attitude
    • Anne’s wide-ranging professional expertise and her careful approach to decision making
    • to his shock, she later will be appointed as his boss)
  • the lively competition between Michael’s company (P.E.M.) and Dressel Design
  • a quiet information ‘plant’ for the central problem in the story. and
  • a set-up for the shock Michael will feel when Anne later is appointed as his boss

* * * * *

Michael Weber stared at his watch. 

   Thirty minutes late

   He should be on the road home already if he was to make it to Frankfurt by the end of Petra’s concert. The reception itself was no big deal, just another guest conductor, but Gunnar Voss might be there and Michael welcomed any opportunity to schmooze with P.E.M.’s vice-president.

   Where were Horst and Andreas? Just a simple delivery, twelve blocks away, one man to run it in, the other to wait with the van. What could be so hard about that? 

   The sales booth was getting busy again. Michael hated working alone and doing three jobs at once—greeting new prospects, managing the video player, and filling in call-back sheets for the team to follow up. 

   From start to finish, this München show had been busy, the turnout much better than last month up in Köln. Certainly the new display helped to draw people in, with the company name in blue and white lights: “Plastics Engineering & Manufacturing.” Not as costly as the one Dressel Design had mounted but also not as garish. 

   Michael glanced at the three men clustered around the aluminum injection molds, inspecting P.E.M.’s product samples and cost charts. Not yet ready for the close.

   Two other fellows stood in front of the big screen, hearing the advantages of production work in Guangdong. Michael was no great fan of such outsourcing, but the video was well-produced and garnered good attention. Besides, the Guangdong initiative came from the top down and he knew enough to put a good face on it. Michael prepared himself for the follow-up spiel.  

   “Good afternoon, Mr. Weber.” 

   Michael spun around to face a young businesswoman, in her late twenties, stylishly dressed. He flashed his best sales smile.

   “I have a question for you.”

   “You’re a step ahead of me. I usually say, ‘Michael Weber…At your service.”

   The woman laughed.

   “You don’t remember me, do you, Michael?”

   He looked again, and then it hit him.

   “Anne? Annie Hauser. Boy, I sure didn’t expect to meet you here.”

   He had not seen her in eight or nine years, not since that wild, crazy summer when they hitchhiked across the Peloponnese, from Patra to Nafplio. He extended his right hand in greeting, but she kept hers firmly on her clutch bag.

   “I do have a business question. I talked with one of your colleagues this morning. Didn’t he tell you?”

   Michael shook his head. 

   “Red hair?”

   “No, short and chubby.”

   “Oh, Andreas…Good.”

   “You sound like you don’t like the other one?”

   Michael frowned.

   “Just between old friends, Horst is not the top of our talent pool. Boss’s nephew. So, what brings you to our part of the world, Anne?”

   “I’m checking out your company.”

   “Casing us out for Dressel?”

   She eyed him carefully. “I’m casing you out, but not for the competition. I’ve been approached by…well, let’s just say by a recruiter, to consider a position with your firm.”

   “I thought you went into finance.”

   “I did for a while. But I needed more challenge. I work for a small company up in Ingolstadt and get to do pretty much everything—buying, marketing, customer service.”

   “Are you still good with figures?”

   “When I need to be.”

    Michael grinned. “I am, too, just not with the numbers kind.”

   “Back to my question…”

   “Mine first. Is your headhunter talking about work in Berlin?”

   “It’s all nondisclosure…but you probably know details from the inside.”

   Michael nodded, though he had no idea what position P.E.M. personnel might be considering. He had heard that old Koring, the sales manager in the Neukolln office, might be retiring. They seldom consulted him about candidates, even for his own department. How else could he explain having Horst on staff?

   “Maybe you’ll come to work for me?”

   “At this point, it’s all just talk.”

   The Guangdong video had finished and the two men were turning to leave the viewing area. Michael excused himself and handed them promotional flyers and his business card. When he returned, Anne was examining an injection die for a battery casing. 

   “Nice piece of tooling,” she said, setting it back on the counter. 

   “Yes. Our design guys are good.” 

   In her blue business suit and high-heeled shoes, Anne looked more attractive than ever. She had filled out nicely and there was little to remind Michael of the student he had known, except for her long blonde mane. 

   “I have to admit,” he said, “I hardly recognized you.”

   “Have I really changed that much?”

    “No. You look more…mature, but beautiful as ever.”

   “And you’re smooth-tongued as ever.” Her blue eyes had an icy glint. “Now, I’ve talked with your colleague about all the fieldwork, Michael, but there’s something I need to ask you.”

   “Can we discuss it over dinner? I’ll be done here in a few minutes.”

   “It’d be strictly business.”

   “Is that any way to treat a friend?”

   She stared at him for a moment. “When I woke up that morning in Nafplio and you were gone…Was that any way to treat a friend?”

   “Point taken…but that’s way in the past, Anne. And my offer for dinner is good. Halali? Spatenhaus?”

   “Another time, maybe. Right now, let’s stick with my question.”

   “You really have grown up.”

   “What kind of metrics are you using to assess lead value and track personal sales?”

   “Whoa!” Michael raised his hands. “We’re not bean counters, Anne. Of course, we do the usual stuff–call reports, pipeline, quotes…”

   “You don’t use any advanced analytics?”

   “For us, selling is still an art, not just some mathematical equation. If my guys make their monthly quota, I don’t hassle them.” 

   She weighed the information and did not seem to be impressed. “That’s helpful.” 

   Anne turned to leave, then paused. “One more question–what do you like most about working for your company?”

   Michael grinned. “It’s always the people I meet.”

   “Thank you, Michael Weber. You haven’t changed a bit.”

   “When will I see you again?”

  Anne shrugged. “Who knows?  I’m happy where I’m at, but if they make it worth my while, I might consider relocating.”

   “You should come. P.E.M. pays well and you could shake things up a bit.”

   “Life’s about more than money,” she said.

   Michael detected a mischievous smile. He watched Anne as she started down the crowded aisle. Had he just been beguiled?

   “If you are with Dressel,” he shouted, “say ‘Hi’ to Peter Lang.”

   Anne looked back and shook her head. “You’ll have to tell him yourself.”

   At the far end of the exhibition hall, Michael spotted Andreas Straub hurrying towards him, with Horst Nocker strutting a few feet behind and much less rushed. Those clowns were turning his premium-service efforts into a joke. If he smelled beer on their breath, he’d give them a piece of his mind.

   “Sorry, Michael,” Andreas panted as he arrived. “The traffic is crazy.” 

   “You guys don’t know the difference between a delivery and a vacation.”

   Horst just shrugged and took his usual place by the video display.

   Michael gathered up his jacket, laptop, briefcase and all the afternoon Call Back sheets. 

   “I’m heading back to Frankfurt tonight,” he said to Andreas. “I’ll see you in the office on Monday. I’ll leave you in charge.”

   And, looking straight at Horst, he added, “Remember to keep your hands down and your elbows in. Nobody buys from a flapping rooster.”

Scene Writing Guidelines

Sample Scene 1

Sample Scene 2

Sample Scene 3

Showing and Telling

Incident and Phase