First task this week:
Imagine two different venues for writing – one that seems most suited to you, and one that you would find bizarre or too difficult. Write a paragraph describing two writers at work, one in each of the venues.
Jolting awake Liza reached over and turned off her alarm. No snooze button for her. She scrambled out of bed, heading straight for the bathroom. She got dressed, nothing complicated: a hoodie and jeans. Grabbing her laptop and keys she left her apartment. Arriving at the cafe on the stroke of eight a.m. she smiled to herself as she sat in her favorite spot, to observe and note the morning life.
Mark hung the last saucepan up onto the hook to dry. Yanking out the plug ‘Finally’ he thought, ‘I can have fun.’ He filled his glass with cold water, turning the light off as he left the kitchen. Walking across the hall he entered his study, his haven. Shifting some papers about on his desk he made room for his glass. He rebooted his computer as he sat down. Ready to type.
- Read back through the notes you have made so far and the character sketch you wrote in Developing a character from your notebook.
- Now try to add to your notes and sketch, making your observations as detailed as possible. Think back to the person you observed and see if you can remember more precise details about that person.
Marie dashes across the road, wiping the sweat from her brow as she arrives at the bus shelter. That small spurt of exercise leaves her breathless. She squeezes herself onto the bench, muttering a thanks to two people who get up to make room for her.
Marie tries to make conversation with man sitting beside her, before she is finished speaking, he turns his back.
She turns the other way and breaks into a smile. “Elle est mignonne!” she exclaims to the little girl in the buggy. The little girl cringes away and hides her face. Marie laughs throwing her head back, she elbows the mother, Sarah, in the ribs, “Elle eat timide?”
Sarah attempts to hide her disgust, her nose wrinkles as the alcoholic fumes hits her. She shakes her head as she tries to manovere the buggy away from Marie.
Marie doesn’t notice, she continues to make what she thinks are funny faces at the girl. Unfortunately, before she can get a smile her bus arrives. She waves goodbye to the little girl and climbs on board. Sarah stares at the big brown stain on the seat of Marie’s pants.
Now reconsider your character sketch:
- Is there an opportunity to add the thoughts of your character?
- Can you situate your character in relation to a particular location?
- Does what your character says in their dialogue tally with what they think, or is there a discrepancy?
- Can you smuggle in some details about your character’s back story, their life prior to when we meet them?
- Can you try to infer how your character acts in the world – for instance, are they overwhelmed or in some sense out of control or are they hapless?
Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything to add to the “Marie & Sarah” story. I felt if I added Marie’s thoughts the reader would start to feel sympathetic towards her.
Turn on the radio and take note of the first thing that is mentioned. Use it as the basis for either the start of a story or an entire story – whichever, it should be no more than 500 words. Imagine a character, someone who is central to what the story is about. Try to use clear, vivid language so that your reader can see the character. Use some of the characterisation techniques we have talked about so far:
- physical description
- thoughts and inner life
- where the character is located
- the character’s back story
- how the character acts in the world.
You might not wish to include all of these various aspects in your story but you might like to know something about them nonetheless.
This was a hard task as I don’t have a radio. OR a television. Searching google for a random radio station was annoyingly difficult. I ended up looking for a random prompt generator.
My sentence: Spare some change please?
“Spare some change please?” the young girl rattled a tin at the passerby’s: Some looked at her in dismay, others in disgust, but majority ignored her.
One young woman smiled as she went by, mouthing “Sorry”.
Jules wished she could help, unfortunately she was looking forward to a bowl of salt and pepper flavored couscous for dinner. Her stomach grumbled in anticipation. Nearly home, nearly home.
Please no bills. Please. Please. Opening the door to her building. She studied her post box, Be empty! Yes! She let go of the tension that had been building in her neck and shoulders. Some of it anyway. Closing and locking the box, she climbed the three flights of stairs to her glorious one roomed apartment.
Taking off her coat, scarf, and shoes she reached to flick on the heating. She stopped, No, it’s not that cold yet. Taking off her uniform, she hung it up. She then put on leggings, pulled a pair of socks on, tucking the leggings in. She put her pyjama bottoms on over the leggings, and big fluffy socks, then her slippers. She put on a few t-shirts and finally an oversized hoodie. Feeling less like a corpse she went in search of her dinner.
A clean black jeep pulled up beside the young girl. She smiled as she gathered up her stuff and hopped into the car. She handed over her earnings to her Dad, “Clean your face, we’re going to a restaurant tonight.”
Excellent! Steak tonight. She thought as she wiped her face with a baby wipe.