2nd Tuesday of month, 6.30pm to 7.30pm
Jelly Studios, Broad St Mall
A group for adults who want to improve their creative writing. Join us for discussions of writing techniques, writing exercises and critiquing each other’s work. Please bring something to write with and something to write on.
Register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/jelly-writers-tickets-41959714636
A change in this session where we concentrated on character development.
So, imagine your character and then answer some questions about them. I found Q2, Q9 challenging – definitely areas to focus on.
Q1 What do they look like?
A dark trench coat. Sullen. Dark hair, flat but not greasy. Blue eyes but not bright blue. Black trousers, maybe jeans. A pointed nose but not too long; not a button nose of fat. No smile; not yet; a firm line. A dark shirt, no tie; not buttoned right to the top; just one left unbuttoned.
Q2 How do they smell?
Smell of nothing. No odour of BO. No smoker, this. Clean cloths. Their breath also nothing. No bad breath but also no toothpaste, or smell of food. No presence in the smellscape. Up close maybe a hint of humanity but you’re not usually up hat close.
Q3 What do they have for breakfast?
Croissants, torn simply. No butter or jam. A coffee with milk, no sugar. No full English or extras. Simple food, light and not too filling. No colour – no orange or apple juice.
Q4 What do they think of Harry and Megan’s wedding?
A royal wedding brings disinterest. Not part of his life, as he was not part of theirs. They existed only on the TV, as far as he cared. Would spend the day like any other. He didn’t wish them ill. Just didn’t consider them.
Q5 What is their earliest memory?
Walking to school, holding his mother’s hand. A little fast to keep up with her pace. But not dragged along. Just moving quickly. Somewhere to be and mustn’t be late. First day at school. Looking forward to it. Sunny August day.
Q6 What is a memory they would rather forget?
The death of his friend. Illness took him too young. Sitting by the hospital bed, head inn hands, quietly sobbing. His friend, staring at the ceiling, unmoving. Getting up to call the nurse.
Q7 What are they doing at 3 o’clock today?
Standing outside the back door to the club. Faint music from inside, a low bass coming through. Occasionally a laugh/giggle from staff near the door on their way past. Waiting for someone patiently. Someone inside.
Q8 What is their daily routine?
Get up whenever; depends on the night before. Breakfast at the café. Maybe brunch or lunch, as above. Go and talk to Matt. Grab a paper at the library and check what the world thinks is going in. Skim-reading.
Q9 Who or what do they love?
Nobody. There is an absence. He doesn’t avoid love but here vis none at present. Keeping the wrong circles, the wrong activities. Focussing on the wrong things for love. He doesn’t love what he does, even though it needs doing.
Q10 What is their name and do they like it?
It’s their given name. They have frown into it but changes it a bit over time from James to Jamie to … Jim. Usefully short. Doesn’t get mistaken for another name.
Q11 What is their holiday destination?
Need a break? Where to go. The same – a city. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle. Not too different but where you know no-one and no-one knows you. A long weekend with a shoulder bag of clothes and supplies. By train.
Q12 What would they do with scratch card winnings?
Not a gambler so would be a scratch card they were given or found. They would pass it on. Maybe a note for the homeless. Or a generous tip at the café where he had breakfast. But not his usual café. May create expectations. Money not important, a distraction.
And now 14 minutes to write about the character
He pushed the door and stepped into the café. The breakfast regulars had gone on their ways and the place was nearly empty.
Sally at the till called out “croissants, Jim?”
“Yeah,” he replied, “and a strong coffee.”
He sat down and squinted out of the window at the human traffic going past. Shoppers mainly, and the occasional wanderer, looking for somewhere to go. His order came soon and he absent-mindedly shredded the bread. The chair across the small table scraped across the floor and his eyebrow raised in surprise. He hadn’t seen Bill come in.
“Have a seat,” he offered after Bill sat down.
“Tonight’s the night,” Bill muttered. Sally started to walk over but Jim gently waved her away.
Looking at Bill, Ji took a mouthful of coffee and shuffled in his seat. The coffee wasn’t really worth savouring so he swallowed and sighed.
“What if I can’t make it? Have other plans?”
“That would be unwise.”
The chair scraped again as Bill rose and left, the door banging closed after him.
“Another coffee, please, Sal.”
“On its way,” although he didn’t hear, deep in thought.