My Weekly Jaunt to (Virtual) College: Writing 101 #Week 2 Day 6: Character

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I knew when I signed up for this month’s daily post challenge that I would inevitably fall behind the deadlines, this means that I can’t share my links as the threads have closed on the mothersite! However, bear with me, I am posting the challenges in this evening before the football!

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Day 6: A Character Building Experience

Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.

Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).

Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.

Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

In displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalizations!

– Anton Chekhov, Letter to Alexander Chekhov; May 10, 1886

Describing people — whether real or fictional — in a way that channels their true essence is an invaluable skill for any writer. Through the careful accumulation of details, great authors morph their words into vivid, flesh-and-bones creations in our minds. How can you go about shaping your portrait of a person? Some ideas to explore:

Don’t just list their features. Tell us something about how their physical appearance shapes the way they act and engage with others. For example, see how the author of this moving photo essay, which documents the final weeks of a woman dying of cancer, captures the kernel of the woman’s spirit with a short, masterful statement:

Her eyes told stories that her voice didn’t have the power to articulate and she had a kindness that immediately made me feel like we had been friends for years.

Give us a glimpse of what makes this person unique. We all have our own quirks, mannerisms, and individual gestures, both physical and linguistic. If you’re looking for inspiration, read this blogger’s portrait of her French host family — after reading the first two paragraphs, you already have intimate knowledge of who these people are and what drives them.

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There are so many people to choose from, I would write about my solicitor who opened up conversation about my writing and has since recommended some writing sites to me. He seemed genuinely interested in the work I do as a writer even after I told him there is no money in it. I could write about countless headliners and writers I have met this year at events and festivals. I could write about my friend’s son who is now suddenly two and so when meeting him again was like a stranger to me, a wonderfully articulate, playful one! The endless stream of new people I meet through work…. and to think I questioned whether I had met anybody new this year when I first saw this prompt!

I have chosen.

Our paths crossed through poetry, back in the year. She was new to the whole idea and yet confident enough to come and talk to us after the show, it reminded me of theatre and how people would come to the Stage Door, because her questions were in awe and yet a few short months later she had become a master.

Tutored those less confident and created a character all of her own. A character whose wardrobe has taken over an entire room at home.

The first thing I ever noticed was her blonde hair and leather, next how tiny she was, not short but incredibly slender, she has one of those bodies that God just gives out occasionally I thought when I first met her, I have since found out about her ice-cream diet and zumba habit! I think what most people noticed in the early days was her blonde hair and figure, male and female. Now (in character) I think they will notice the hairpiece first, the tall pantomime/Regency style wig that provides a platform for all manor of props, adds several feet to her stature and seems to have a life of its own. The body now is scantily clad, I admire the confidence to perform in less than a poetry dress… then I think if God had given me that body I would dress it with love too.

In those early days she learnt a lot, collected contacts like china figures, knew what she was doing, or maybe she didn’t and it all just evolved and happened. She came far fast, in the super highway lane, doing even more gigs than me. Her act crossed the lines between performance art and poetry and later comedy, the character has taken on a life of its own.

I wonder about the people who have only met the character – what they must think. I know the girl underneath, some of her backstory. The edges are hidden well and with reason, but I am proud that she trusts me with the truth and she can.

She came to mind as the most interesting and unique person I have met this year, although parts of my own past run parallel and I know there is a whole world of identical stories out there, I had never known someone with such strength. Many of us build it back up over time, she seemed to be armed with it. Boudicca. I already know she will be okay and from all of the darkness has come this new, new lease of life. She had never performed or written poetry before and here she is doing both amazingly well!

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Photograph Tara Buckley – The Tea Project

Whenever we talk her eyes are wide and listening, she is someone who can (despite the odds) grab hold of life’s lighter moments and sails away on calm waters when all around her lies noise and carnage, she seems to rise above and come out shining. This is probably not how she feels or sees her own life.

She has an exciting energy and there is always a frantic sharing of tales as we catch up with each others lives beyond the social media updates and gig lists. She is fun. A fun-loving person who has brought lots of light into my world!

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