And then there was Maud. She waited tables at Ming’s Food Court. Some nights for the Chinese, some nights for Thai, some nights for the new Korean place that outdid the rest in the noodle stakes. She was a regular gun for hire in the town’s budget hospitality circuit. Competition was fierce in that place and she knew it. She could pretty much guarantee the biggest takings for the eatery she rostered with that evening. Best service in the district; brightest smile. Hell, I saw a few of the rich folk deign to visit because they heard she was working their favourite cuisine. Old Pierre from Chez Royale down the road tried to hire her one. But he let his eyes slip a little too low and she told him where to go. That’s my Maud.

“If she’s so clever, why’s she working here?” someone asked me once. His name was Billy. He’d visit every now and then to collect stories. ‘Human interest’ stories, he called them. The paper would cite him on the byline, but they were all my stories. I was the story broker in town. I could get anywhere and see anything without anybody knowing or caring. I told him about Sam Wood’s fishing adventure down by the lake. Billy went to interview him, but when I got my hands on the paper, it read word for word like the version I told him. I didn’t mind.

Maud grew up in the house at the bottom of the hill. I remember her birth like it was yesterday. It was messy like Daryl Booker’s birthday the week before, but her momma didn’t suffer as much as poor little Amy Ray’s the month after. Maud was a genius from the moment she opened her eyes. She was no older than three when she tugged on my sleeve and reminded me not to put a bad apple in with the other ones. “They’ll all turn,” she said, and skipped off.

Exercise from Developing Characters by Irving Weinman: In about 300 words, introduce a potentially flat character, using third-person narration, as observed by another character. Make the reader understand something significant about the relation between the observer and the observed.