Loving Kiran – Scrivener’s Forge 6 exercise

This is my exercise for the Scrivener’s Forge prompt on character and action to create character through action, rather than description

 

Let me tell you about Kiran. I loved her with a love that corroded the soul. Like, there was this time I took her to a friend’s party. She talked philosophy with Daniel, a practitioner of that art. He asked her if she thought it was now, now. Without missing a beat, she said ‘No, Dan, it was now then.’

She had Roddie stand on her stomach. Now Roddie was a big guy. He played rugger. She just lay down and sucked in air and told him to stand on her stomach. And that stomach remained flat.

For each and every one of them, she had something special. That’s how she was. I felt ten feet tall that she had come with me, and that she left with me. I was so proud she was mine. When we were walking home, she said ‘Wow, I did it. I dominated a whole room full of guys. I held their attention, and none of the other women got a look in.’

You’re probably thinking round about now that Kiran was a bit superficial. You’d be right. I didn’t care. She was gorgeous, and everyone wanted her, and she was mine. I guess I’m a bit superficial too. When we made love, it was like nothing, I’d ever experienced before. When we fought, it was also like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Nobody before, or since, has ever come at me with a knife.

I didn’t know how badly I loved Kiran until I lost her. I became a crazy man. She was going out with this wimp. I think she did it just to annoy me. I took to following them around. One night, I jumped out of an alley, and told the wimp if he didn’t fuck off and leave her alone I was going to kill him. Kiran really got off on that. I think she loved me more then, than all the time we were together. She had that look, lips slightly parted, grey eyes glistening. The wimp ran. She practically dragged me to her flat. We started to fuck just inside the front door. It was like coming home.

The Scrivener’s Forge 6 – Character is action

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A new writing exercise every month. When you focus on one aspect of writing at a time, you can concentrate on making it the best you can possibly create. That way you can reach a professional level that may be harder with longer works. We’ll explore one aspect of the craft each month.

If you comment on other writers’ efforts, they’ll usually comment on yours. So you get lots of critiques, advice, and encouragement.

Please don’t post your entry in comments here. Create your entry on your own blog, and then click the little blue frog to join the link-up and read other people’s work.

6. Character is action

Characters act. The ways they act, and hence the stories they create, depend on their natures. In this month’s exercise, we’ll explore using action to reveal that nature.

Exercise

Create a character in your mind. Visualise her or him. Learn what their goals, mannerisms and peculiarities are.  Then write a short scene that shows us who your character is, entirely through their actions. Show us who your character is – do not tell us. Do not use any describing words (adjectives or adverbs). Make your verbs count – if a character walks, we don’t learn much about them, but if they stride we see their confidence and purpose, whereas if they slouch or creep we see their discomfort.

The Barn – Scrivener’s Forge 5 exercise

This is my response to the fifth Scrivener’s Forge exercise on Character and World Building. Click on the link to see the exercise details

 

Twenty-two years the barn has survived. Twenty generations of ewes lambed in it.  We stored twenty-one harvests there, smelling of summer sun and the good rich earth. I see the paint is flaking now, and one door leans askew on its hinges. When did that happen? I should repair it and repaint the damn thing. I should. And I will soon. There’s time. So much time.

The old yew stump pains my right buttock, so I shift to my left and carry on studying the barn. Hope – that’s what it stored. When you’re young, you have nothing but hope.  The future stretches out ahead of you, bright and unblemished.

Twenty-two harvests is so little time. Just adequate to build up a farm, get a wife, raise a brood. That’s only years enough to write the first couple of lines into the flyleaf of the family bible. But what a man writes slowly with his bare hands age on age, men together can erase in a second.

The barn and I have weathered as one. The door is falling off, and the wound in my leg aches me in the winter. I don’t suppose either of us are long for this world.  I don’t suppose it matters now. No need for repairs. I’ll sit a while longer.

The Scrivener’s Forge 5 – Character and World-building

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A new writing exercise every month. When you focus on one aspect of writing at a time, you can concentrate on making it the best you can possibly create. That way you can reach a professional level that may be harder with longer works. We’ll explore one aspect of the craft each month.

If you comment on other writers’ efforts, they’ll usually comment on yours. So you get lots of critiques, advice, and encouragement.

Please don’t post your entry in comments here. Create your entry on your own blog, and then click the little blue frog to join the link-up and read other people’s work.

Character and world-building

Building a character is building a world. This may be a world of fantasy, of wizards and dragons. But it doesn’t have to be. When the physical world and the emotional world are overlaid, everyday things become new and vibrant if seen through the eyes of a character in a particular situation. How every character sees and understands the world creates their world. This is what gives a character a distinctive voice. Vivid description is a portrait of a mind thinking and feeling its way through the world. A character’s mentality is created both from the big things (someone who is fearful is surrounded by a world of threat, for example) but also from the small things (someone who is fastidious may be troubled by a neighbour’s messy garden).

Exercise

An exercise from John Gardener. Write a scene which places a character in a specific location. Use the interaction between character and description to show us a unique world we’ve never seen before and that will never exist again.  A man whose son has died in the war is looking at a building. Describe the building without mentioning the war, the son, or his death.

Hint: if you’re finding this hard to approach, consider why a character in this situation might even notice a building.

Noble Lies – Scrivener’s Forge 4 exercise

This is my response to the third Scrivener’s Forge exercise on Character and Likeability. Click on the link to see the exercise details

 

It would be a delightfully simple world if telling the truth was always right and lying was always wrong. But it is not so. I work undercover, and I’ve had to become a practitioner of the Noble Lie. Such lies are told for reasons of the greater good, often to maintain law, order and safety. Though they may told with love, they corrupt other loves.

I spent a year and a half getting close to Ayesha’s brothers, but never did discover what they were up to. I went out with them on marches and protests, handed out leaflets, buttonholed worshippers after Friday prayers about sharia and the true meaning of Islam. But they never took me with them on their frequent weekends away. I was denied entry to the inner circle. The locations of their trips were revealing though – Hampshire, Surrey and Kent. I knew for certain they visited Aldershot, Deepcut. Chatham, Sandhurst and Worthy Down. All of those places have military bases. It looked, as they say, suspicious.

Then Ayesha said she had something to tell me. Her sloe eyes were bright, her breathing was fast and shallow. ‘I’m pregnant,’ she said.

I said the usual silly things men say – What? How? Why? Are you sure?

‘It will be all right, won’t it?’ she asked. ‘You must marry me.’

‘Your brothers will never allow it,’ I temporised.

‘My brothers and father will kill me if I have a baby and I am unmarried.’

The moment of betrayal is always agonising. You recite for yourself all the reasons that make it right. There’s duty. There’s the uncomfortable truth that you already have a wife and two vaguely C of E kids. And those are good justifications. But you can only betray what you first love.

I walked away, looked back once, and shed a tear.

The Scrivener’s Forge 4 – Character and Likeability

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A new writing exercise every month. When you focus on one aspect of writing at a time, you can concentrate on making it the best you can possibly create. That way you can reach a professional level that may be harder with longer works. We’ll explore one aspect of the craft each month.

If you comment on other writers’ efforts, they’ll usually comment on yours. So you get lots of critiques, advice, and encouragement.

Please don’t post your entry in comments here. Create your entry on your own blog, and then click the little blue frog to join the link-up and read other people’s work.

Character and Likeability

A main character doesn’t have to be likeable, but they do have to be interesting. Any believable hero or heroine must have flaws (just as every satisfying villain must have good qualities). They may even be overwhelmed by their flaws. Flawed heroines are given a much harder time by readers than flawed heroes.

Exercise:

Write a scene with an unlikeable main character that you think will engage the reader’s interest. You might want to try changing their gender and writing it again. If you do this, consider what you learned from the comparison.

Waiting – Scrivener’s Forge 3 exercise

This is my response to the third Scrivener’s Forge exercise on Character Desire and Suspense. Click on the link to see the exercise details. It precedes, in the story, the reponse to the second exercise. Click here  to see other responses.

 

Waiting is the mother of change.  Zami shifted in the seat, the wood aching his buttocks. These benches asserted the court’s grandeur but offered little comfort, He reached to scratch his beard but touched new-shaven flesh. Change, he nodded. No longer bearded – no longer Zami, in fact. After testifying against Rashid, he could return to being Vince. At least until he was re-assigned to another mission.

He wasn’t sure he knew any more who Vince was. To be Vince again was frightening – a prospect full of chill nights warmed only by a bag of fish and chips.  But Zami he knew inside out.  Ayesha’s warm and forbidden outline defined his inline.  Ayesha, with whom he had first lain in the warm Andalusian night. Would she come to him again? Would she forgive?

The Scrivener’s Forge 3

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A new writing exercise every month. When you focus on one aspect of writing at a time, you can concentrate on making it the best you can possibly create. That way you can reach a professional level that may be harder with longer works. We’ll explore one aspect of the craft each month.

If you comment on other writers’ efforts, they’ll usually comment on yours. So you get lots of critiques, advice, and encouragement.

Please don’t post your entry in comments here. Create your entry on your own blog, and then click the little blue frog to join the link-up and read other people’s work

3. Character, Desire and Suspense

Last month we explored the way a character’s desire creates a story. The exercise was to write a climax in which the character confronts the obstacles that prevent them achieving what they want.

This time, write a paragraph that comes immediately before your character reaches the climax of their struggle. The purpose of the exercise, apart from exploring further how desire drives your character, is to learn how to build suspense. You will need to hold your reader’s attention at the same time as making them want to jump ahead

Reunion

This is my response to the second Scrivener’s Forge exercise on Character Desire and Plot.  Click on the link to see the exercise details. Click here  to see other responses.

The swing doors of the waiting room opened and Zami’s heart lurched. Ayesha was here to support her brother in court. Darling Ayesha. Rashid still didn’t know she was pregnant. When he found out, he would surely kill her. Putting him behind bars was the best way to protect her. Didn’t Ayesha know he was doing this for her? She spotted him and stumbled for a moment, hand to her mouth. She loved him still, she did.  The lustre of her hair, which she brushed for half an hour every morning, was covered by a respectable black hijab trimmed in gold. Her large obsidian eyes, etched with kohl, held his gaze.

Glare poisonous, she moved to the far side of the room. Never again!  Getting involved with your subjects wasn’t just against regulations, it led to too much pain. Zami slumped and resumed waiting.

The Scrivener’s Forge 2: Character, Desire, and Plot

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A new writing exercise every month. When you focus on one aspect of writing at a time, you can concentrate on making it the best you can possibly create. That way you can reach a professional level that may be harder with longer works. We’ll explore one aspect of the craft each month.

If you comment on other writers’ efforts, they’ll usually comment on yours. So you get lots of critiques, advice, and encouragement.

Please don’t post your entry in comments here. Create your entry on your own blog, and then click <“An InLinkz Link-up“> to join the link-up and read other people’s work.

Character Desire and Plot

Plots engage our interest, but characters engage our hearts. For a story to grip the reader, the main character must undergo change. Once you have a character with a desire, you have a plot. The plot is about how the character struggles to overcome obstacles and achieve their desire, or fails to do so.

Exercise:

Think of a character. Then ask yourself: what does this character want?  What is stopping them achieving their desire? What must they do to overcome these obstacles?  Write a brief scene, the climax of the story, in which your character confronts the obstacles.