Saturday Writing Club Week 5

Each Saturday, I will give a few thoughts about writing, and a writing prompt.

If you want to take part, write your story in response to the prompt, and put the link to your story in the comments below. (Don’t have a space online to publish your story? *You can get a free WordPress site here.)

Initially, I plan to do this for six weeks. If the response is good, I’m happy to keep it going long-term.

Note: I use examples from my own books, so I don’t have to worry about copyright issues.

Image: Just Joey - orange rose. Text: Writing Club Week 5 Character

Writing Club Week 5 Character

When creating a character, it is possible to give a physical description.

He holds up an identity badge to the window.  The badge says he is Dr Edward Beare from Queensland Health.  The photo is of a man with deep brown eyes, almost black, dark hair and the kind of tan that is inherited rather than from sun exposure.  I guess Indian heritage.  It’s a very handsome face.  I look from the photo to the biohazard suit now standing outside my window.  The eyes are the same, so dark, like endless depths, black holes that no light can escape.  (from Hollywood Lied.)

Another option is to tell the reader what the character values.

Arthur grieved over the young men. Some of them had gathered around him when they were little to hear stories of the ancestors, of the dreaming times.  But now they were not interested in their history, their people, or the dreaming. Now, there they were, drinking poison, with bodies still alive, but empty eyes that showed they were dead inside. (from “Lance and Arthur” in Patchwork.)

Describing their actions, how they speak, or even nervous habits, also tells the reader a lot about a character. 

They sat in their usual circle, in their usual varying attitudes of attention and inattention, waiting for the week to begin.

“OK”, Sarah looked down at her notes. “Well it’s the start of another week. How did everyone go over the weekend?”

Residents looked from one to the other. No-one ever wanted to speak first. 

“OK,” Sarah looked down at her notebook. “While you’re thinking about it, here’s our morning notices. Life skills this morning is in the kitchen with Kara – you’re going to be making spaghetti bolognese.”

Chantal shook a dirty blonde curl out of her face. “I can’t have spaghetti bolognese. I’m vegetarian.”

“When did that happen?” Bobby said, looking curiously at the fingernail he’d just been biting. “You ate sausages at the barbecue yesterday.”

“I’ve had an epiphany,” Chantal said, “I’m vegetarian now. I can’t eat another living thing.”

“It’s not living once it’s meat,” Johnno laughed, that grating, annoying laugh that always made Sarah think of a cat having its tail pulled.

“Don’t be disgusting,” Chantal said. “It’s wrong to eat another living thing, or even something that used to be living.”

“Better not eat any vegetables then,” Johnno squawked as he laughed again.

“I think,” Sarah interrupted, “we need to respect Chantal’s choice here. Chantal, I’m sure Kara can help you make yours without meat.”

“I don’t want to be in a kitchen where people are cooking meat,” Chantal said. “The smell will make me sick.”

“Didn’t make you sick when you ate five sausages yesterday,” Bobby was examining the next fingernail. “You were leaning over the barbecue saying they were taking too long to cook, and how good they smelled.”

“You can cope with the kitchen, I’m sure,” Sarah said.

“No, I can’t. I absolutely can’t.”

“Chantal, you know the condition of being here is that you take full part in the program.” Sarah tried to keep her voice calm, even. “You can’t just leave out the parts you don’t like. Life skills is central to the program. You committed to doing it when you came here.”

“So do it,” Johnno laughed, “or you go back up to the ward, and you’ll never, ever, ever, get out.”

“That’s enough, Johnno,” Sarah said sharply. “Chantal, you will go to life skills. You don’t have to cook or eat meat, but you do have to go to the kitchen for a cooking session.”

“I’m going to write to the Health Minister about this,” Chantal pouted.

“That’s fine,” Sarah said. “You have the right to write to anyone you like, but while you’re here, you’re sticking with the program.”

“It’s all right Chantal,” Jilly said. “You don’t have to smell the meat. If you cook at the end stove, near the door, you can’t smell what’s on the other stoves. That’s what I do when it’s fish.”

“Listen to Jilly,” Johnno laughed. “She knows so much about problem solving. What problem did you solve to end up here, then Jilly?”

“Johnno,” Sarah snapped, “that’s more than enough. Jilly, thank you for your suggestion, I’m sure that will help Chantal a lot.”

Jilly blushed, looked down at her feet, brown hair falling over her face. Her arms and legs pulled tightly into herself. She rarely spoke, always afraid of drawing attention to herself.  (from Group Meeting.)

This Week’s Task

This week’s project involves observing people – do not do this in a creepy way.  Don’t photograph, film or record people.  Just take notice of various people, how they speak to each other, what their actions say.

Write a short piece, using your observations of people to help you build a character. Add a link to your piece of writing in the comments below this post, and say something of what you’ve learned from watching people interact.

Don’t have a space on the internet to publish your writing so you can give a link? *You can get a free WordPress site here.

*Disclosure: If you use this link to create an account, I receive WordPress credit..


By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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