Thursday, September 22, 2011

Write on Wednedays: a day late and little long...







Write On Wednesdays


Write On Wednesdays Exercise 15 - Give yourself some time to notice the people around you. The people who may cross your path each day. The lady in front of you at the supermarket, the man who helps the school kids cross the road, a neighbour, a waitress in a cafe, a librarian, anyone at all. Choose one person, someone you don't know, and this person will become the basis of the week's writing exercise. Describe this person as you see them, describe their surroundings. Then imagine a problem, create conflict for this person. Describe the conflict. Describe how your character deals with the problem. The conflict might resolve itself, it might not. It is up to you. Perhaps, the lady in the supermarket has forgotten her wallet. Does she bursts into tears? Maybe the librarian finds a lost child. The aim is to show how your character responds to conflict and in the process, reveal something about that character. Tell us their story.

Let's aim for around 200 words, keeping with the theme of the last few weeks (to make each word count). Hopefully those of you who are writing ongoing stories will find a way to weave this exercise into your work.

Tartan clutch

Edward gingerly lowered himself onto the bus stop bench. The sun was on his face, but the icy Spring wind was threatening his kidneys, as Marla would have put it. 


They say noses and ears grow with age. Luckily Edwards nose had always been on the petite size, however, his school chums would have collapsed in fits of laughter at the foot of their zimmerframes had they lived long enough to see his ears now. Big Ears had nothing on Edward as he sat clutching the oversized tartan pencil case to his chest. His enormous wrinkly ears soaking in the sun's rays on either side of his weathered face.


The Tam o'Shanter on his head was in a tartan to match the pencil case clutch - his family tartan - he wore it with it's cheery little pom-pom atop with pride. He'd lived in Australia for 65 years, but deep down he was still a Scotty a heart.


Scotland; the home of his childhood. He hadn't been there in all these years, but now he was on his way to the Flight Centre office to pick up his air tickets. He couldn't say what awaited him back in Edinburgh, but there was nothing left for him here. Since Marla passed he longed for family. They had never had children. Marla didn't like children. Marla didn't like a great many things, including the idea of travelling overseas. Edward didn't mind too much though, he would have given up anything to be with her - he had given up a lot.


Now though, he needed his first home, the comfort of his birth place. Edward clutched his savings to his chest in the oversized tartan pencil case and sucked in a lung full of cold spring air - it was as if the weather were giving him a hint of home as confirmation that this was the right thing to do now.


Sorry guys, this is a little long and a little late... I chose an old man I saw at the bus stop yesterday, he seemed like a likely character...

16 comments:

tahlia @ the parenting files said...

very creative Sif... I love your style :)

Eloise said...

great work Sif! I could totally picture him there and I can totally imagine myself in the same scenario one day.

Sarah Mac said...

Loved your description of him, I could picture him so clearly.

I also liked the back story you created for him (I'd love to know the real life story).

Great job!

Jayne said...

Aw lovely...I especially like the description of his ears!

Grace said...

Loved reading this. You have a great imagination for just seeing a random person at the bus stop :)

Lene said...

What a great character! I too loved the description of his ears...hilarious! Would love to know what happens when he does finally get 'home'

Anonymous said...

Bless his wee tartan pencil case! What an endearing little character you've painted here Sif. I was a little confused as to whether he was a boy or a man at first - I think if you told us the pencil case had his life savings in it at the beginning, it would be much clearer. Then the tension would be around what he's going to spend it on.
Great job! Wonderful, warm piece.

Sif said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Lene, i imagine he hooks up with a nursery school friend who's husband has passed and who has a dozen grandchildren he takes on as his own...

Karen, excellent! Thanks for spotting that - this is exactly the sort of feedback I'm hoping to get more of through these exercises!

House of Prowse said...

I like the physical desription of the gentle scot hugging his life savings.
Could you start it with the paragraph "they say ears and noses grow.."? More punchy.

Jayne said...

Heh - Marla sounds as though she might've been a bit of a challenge to live with.

I agree with Kristy. You could start at the second paragraph, but I loved the wind threatening his kidneys, so you'd totally have to work that line back in!

Edward reminded me of some of the shuffling old gents we have come in to school to do voluntary reading with the kids who struggle. He has an air of selflessness about him in his reflections.

Nice piece, Sif x

Sif said...

Thanks Kristy and Jayne! When I originally wrote this in my head I did start it with the second paragraph, then I forgot that - but you're right, it's a better first line. Will try to work in the threatened kidneys as well :D.

Andy said...

I love it Sif! I really do. The sense of loneliness, homesickness...it's all there, you captured it very well. Few words a non native English speaker would like to know though: what is a Zimmerframe? Tried to find it in a dictionary but it wasn't there. Then, what's the difference between an oversized tartan pencil case and a regular one? It piqued my interest. I don't wanna consult Mr.Google because I know you're the only one who can answer me perfectly.hehe

Smiles,


Andy

Janelle said...

I must admit, I don't know what Zimmerframe means either. But I do love Tam O'Shanter, my it's been a long time since I heard that!
I loved it Sif, although I really disliked Marla!
I also had a moment where I thought perhaps he was younger than I assumed at first, and I think it was the pencil case that did it. Perhaps it could be a different item? Though I understand why you chose one of those pencil cases with their lovely tartan for him to keep his savings in.

Sif said...

Andy, a zimmerframe is a brand named for one of those walking frames elderly people use to walk with. I think possibly it's a term which is more popular north of the equator. An oversized pencil case is just a really big pencil case - you can find them in new agencies and places like Big W or Target, they're about the size of an A4 sheet of paper :).

Janelle, funny thing - the man I based this character on was actually wearing a Tam o'Shanter (which I had to look up the term for because I didn't know - thank you wikipedia!) and carrying a matching oversized pencil case! That and his enormous ears is what made him so fascinating to me!]. I didn't like Marla much at all myself, too controlling, she had her own issues - an overbearing father and a very submissive mother...

This exercise is probably my most used way of finding characters... When I was pregnant with my fourth - I was really hoping for a girl and I went and had the mid-pregnancy scan and was told I was having my fourth boy, and for a couple of hours I was just devastated. To comfort myself, I went to a shopping mall and sat on a bench and watched people go by, picking out really interesting characters and making up stories about them. It's something I just love to do, it makes me happy :).

Andy said...

Thank you for that Sif! That's additional knowledge for me.=)

Sheri Bomb said...

I love this! I love everything about this! I love Edward, I want to give him a hug hehe

Teenagers and the failing parent...