Michaeline: Five Happenings to Spice up a Hotel Story

Story basis: a stranger comes to town; someone leaves town. Hotels have both contingencies covered. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Story basis: a stranger comes to town; someone leaves town. Hotels have both contingencies covered. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I’m on vacation for two weeks, and . . . well, there was this hotel. It was straight out of a story. It was old, and venerable, and quirky, and certainly was the sort of hotel that’d make a great setting for a story. What happened? Well, let me tell you.

1. During check-in, there was a strange, high-pitched male giggling happening behind a closed door. The man at the front desk ignored it completely, and I didn’t ask. How would this work in fiction? Well, perhaps the heroine hears the giggling, and it represents the hidden secrets in her past – benign secrets, or maybe a serial killer. What does your story need? It’s probably behind the door.
2. After we got to our room, the fire alarm went off. It took us ridiculously long to figure out what was happening, and then to finally react appropriately. What alarm bells are going off for our heroine? Does she answer the call right away, or does she dither? Don’t dither too long! It annoys the reader. (And thank goodness for us, it was a false alarm, and we got some good pics of the cute firetrucks.)
3. No hot water. I took a cold shower the first night. Doesn’t this sound like a metaphor for passion? Water is all about sexual feelings, and in the story, the heroine could be scalded, or frozen out. Her shower head could drip, or become a powerful stream. What’s going on in the story?
4. Noisy coughing in the alley. What’s going on? One night it’s a man, and the next night it’s a woman. Is it a plague? A secret code for one of the guests to decipher? A shapeshifter whose voice changes with his/her body cavities? A ghost?
5. The key wouldn’t unlock the door – this actually happened twice in our travels so far, but of course, you couldn’t have it happen twice in a story. People wouldn’t believe you. Doors that are locked means the heroine must seek help. You know, she’s probably seeing a lot of the front desk guy – the shower doesn’t work, housekeeping forgot the towels and now the key is unkeyed. What kind of guy takes a part-time job as a night watchman at a hotel front desk? A student? A man of mystery on the run? A spy? An alien or other supernatural?

The wonderful thing about travelling is that you feed your muses. The terrible thing is that it’s hard to make time to get anything down on paper. Have you got any hotels in your WIP? What are you doing with them, and are you making them do double-duty?

7 thoughts on “Michaeline: Five Happenings to Spice up a Hotel Story

  1. Great exercise, Michaeline. I too have been in lodgings lately, and you are right, they are fertile ground for story thoughts.

    One was the bizzare laundry process, where you had to get a pay card, then load the machine, then scan your card over on the wall, then punch in a code on the machine. If you didn’t do it quickly enough, you lost your money and had to start again. Definitely a two person job and a good opportunity to either have a character who insisted on not not needing help and then wound up in dirty clothes alll week, or two characters thrown together who would otherwise not have given each other the time of day.

    • OMG, laundry!! Such an adventure in itself. I was pleasantly surprised by the coin laundry in my hotel — no inflation from the last time I’d stayed, and it was clean and nice. But, it was on the third floor, and funnily enough, I kept running into this couple on the elevator. They were heading toward the fourth floor, so I made an extra stop for them about three times . . . saw him at the breakfast the next morning, and we exchanged cheerful greetings, having had a long acquaintance on the elevators, LOL.

      The paycard thingy sounds like a good money-maker for the launderers. (Money launderers?)

      I am at my mother’s home now, where the laundry is FREE, and the conversation very pleasant. Travel is such good story fodder! I just wish I had time to write while I was doing it!

  2. Good heavens! Both of you, travel nightmares! I’m about to embark on a three-week road trip myself, so I expect I’ll have hotel stories to share, as well. Has anyone seen the film Barton Fink? Gives me shudders to think about it.

    • Mine wasn’t so much a nightmare as it was a potential nightmare. I was far too amused by the whole thing, and I kept thinking: “There’s a blog post in here!” And, there’s a blog post in the hotel I stayed at last Saturday, as well! It is a charming old hotel that used to be famous for its mineral waters. IIRC, the last time it was rebuilt was in 1912, and it’s just full of period details (and all of the modern conveniences). I’m not sure but I think they use The Waters in their swimming pools. The pools, when I sucked in a lung-full of water were a little salty and kind of sweet at the same time. I need to do pool-walking more often. It’s a great exercise, and I love being in the water.

  3. It sounds like you’re having great adventures, Michaeline! The again, with your wonderful imagination, I’m sure the adventures naturally find you. I’m sorry that your visit to the States doesn’t bring you close enough to any of the 8 Ladies for an in-person visit, but one of these times, we must all figure out a way to get together. Maybe in one of those ‘charming old hotels’ with so many potential stories ;-)!

    • Oh, you know, a less charming but more dependable hotel…. We really should plan a group get-together the next time Michaeline’s in the States.

    • I flew into California, and got together with Kay — everyone else was more than 12 hours away by car (including Elizabeth, who was also travelling!). (-: So, y’all can have confirmation from Kay that I’m a real person.

      Jeanne, I do hope we can all get together next time! RWA always seems to fall just outside our summer vacation. But maybe we can make it work out one of these years!

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