Below is an unrevised exercise that helped to shape a short story of mine. First-person worked best for the main character, and I ultimately went with that.
POV EXERCISE: 3rd Person
Susan glanced down at her watch and saw that she had 20 minutes until the meeting. The argument with Conrad last night had drained her more than she would ever admit to him. With the presentation she had planned for today, she decided to get a coffee with her time. The elevator arrived on her floor almost immediately and it was blissfully empty. Susan reflected on the presentation, pushing aside all thoughts of Conrad and their problems. The elevator doors whisked open too soon. With a deep breath, Susan exited the lift and walked past the elevator bank toward Dominican Dave’s the newsstand and barista in the lobby of her building.
Before Susan could go into the tiny store, she spotted Jillica, another purchaser for the company, being delayed by a new security guard. Jillica was gorgeous: dark, smooth skin; a beautiful figure; original, flattering clothes; and crisp, blazing blue eyes. On good days, Susan could appreciate how much work she did to appear so effortlessly beautiful. On bad days, Susan would often find a flaw in her armor, usually her hair, and throw underhanded jibes her way all day. Today, however, the security guard was going to get a taste of what Susan liked to call “Hurricane Jillica.”
“JILL-ica?” The security guard said with a flirty tone as he held her ID card up to the light.
“It’s pronounced YILL-ica, asshole.” He looked startled, she continued, “Don’t be shocked, some of us actually have jobs that extend beyond a particle-board podium so if you are done staring at my tits, can I go? I see my colleague.” She gestured toward Susan and she tried to appear sympathetic to the poor guard when their eyes met. When he turned back, Susan smiled and her friend approached her. “Hey bitch,” Jillica said, her face planted in her multi-colored rhinestone-studded smartphone, “buy you a coffee?”
Susan shrugged and they walked into the store and immediately into the line. It was small and cramped, stuffed with books and magazines in the aisles, but the counter was packed with pastries and coffee accessories. A tray of freshly-baked giant oatmeal cookies lay cooling on top of the pastry case. Susan watched Dave move quickly to take the orders, fill them, and ring up the customers to shrink the line with a fervor she never saw when she worked in retail.
“Tell me you have something good for today’s meeting,” Jillica implored, “I have nothing to present. All of the dependable designers are churning out crap this year. It’s like I’m starting from scratch. But I did find some really slutty Halloween costumes for next quarter.”
“I’ve got some things, our department will be fine.” Susan didn’t want to tip her hand. Elaine Torgoff, the vice-president tapped to replace the head of the purchasing department would be there. Susan wanted to be noticed.
“Thank God,” Jillica said, trying to discreetly break off a piece of cookie. Dave, even though working on the customer directly in front of them, noticed.
“Hey Miss!” he yelled in his lightly accented voice, “How many times I gotta tell you? No sampling!”
Jillica slowly turned her head to face him, the old man looking at her at first with a look of disdain, quickly replaced by a look of fear. Her blazing blue eyes bored directly into the center of Dave’s forehead, his stern expression fell. “Do they have ‘the customer is ALWAYS right’ in your country? How much money do I spend in here? You cheap. Raghead. FUCK.”
Jillica panted dramatically, her ample cleavage heaving. Dave’s eyes were transfixed, the insult disregarded, if even heard at all.
“Dave. Dave!” Susan snapped her fingers, he snapped his head towards her, “Two cookies and two lattés.” Then to Jillica, “This one’s on me. Why not wait outside?”
Jillica glared at Dave again and walked off cursing him in Spanish. Dave looked crestfallen, these insults he heard. “Doesn’t she know I speak espanol?”