The noise got louder the closer we came. “C’mon, Sara, we’re gonna be late and they might run out of my favorite pizza!” I watched as my best friend since second grade walked ahead of me, her cute little ponytail bouncing behind her. Jeannie had no fear. She would dive into an ocean filled with sharks if she thought they might have something she wanted. “Hurry up!” she shouted, with one last turn of her head, before I lost her in the crowd of hungry students. I tried not to panic, holding the strap of my book bag tighter so it wouldn’t slip off my right shoulder. The sea of people crushed together, everyone cramming through two doors with peeling blue paint, an entrance meant for two, not twenty. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and the panic started to rise again. “One… Two… Three… Breathe…” The counselor’s calm and steady voice whispered in my memories as I started to feel the floor sway beneath my feet. “Don’t you dare pass out on me,” I whispered to myself, but it was too late. The dark perimeter of my vision closed in and I sank to the ground.
Today’s Quick Write inspired by Megan Frazer Blakemore’s #TeachersWrite post, challenging us to write a cafeteria scene as we “feel back to childhood.” As an elementary school educator (and a mom of three), I find myself surrounded by children constantly, but it takes a bit more effort to become a child again and write from that perspective. I’m finding that writing for younger readers is an area of interest and I look forward to making my characters’ voices and experiences more authentic!
Wednesdays are usually Q & A days at Teachers Write, where we have the opportunity to ask published authors questions about the writing process or other aspects of writing/publishing. Sometimes there will also be a writing prompt, as provided today by Melanie Crowder.
We are challenged to create and expand a character sketch, which is new to me as I rarely write fiction. I am stretching myself as a writer through this summer camp, so here’s my contribution:
It was the sparkle of blue that caught her eye as she brushed the dirt from her grandmother’s walkway. A glimmer of stardust, gold band stuck in the dirt, lifting the sapphire between the blades of grass long overdue for a trim.
Blue. Another sign. Jessie crouched down and took a moment to admire the contrast of dull and bright. It would need a good cleaning for sure, but definitely a keeper. She knew the ring would never be worn, but join in solidarity with the other blue signs her grandmother had sent following the accident five years before.
The walkway discarded for now, Jessie made her way to the car. She needed to hide her treasure lest the perfect moment of revelation dissipate in the humid heat. Hiding meant safety. Blue meant love.
I’m not sure where this story may lead, but I was surprised how quickly the storyline played out in my mind; the words flowed from my thoughts as a diversion from my own reality, as I sit here in this hospital waiting room. This summer writing camp has been a welcome reprieve already and we’re only three days in!
Today’s writing task is from author Phil Bildner, challenging us to develop characters from observing those around us. Oh my, if this isn’t a southerner’s dream assignment! Being TOLD to people-watch for the craft of writing… why yes, I do believe I can accomplish this goal!
I’m a people-watcher by nature. The act of social observation is something that flows through my veins like water rippling down a stream. It’s the purpose of people-watching that changes over time. I used to people-watch out of curiosity, intrigued by characteristics that vibrantly stood out against the crowd: the spiked porcupine hair, the ripped shirts and fall-to-your-knees baggy pants. Then I people-watched out of boredom, waiting for my daughter to be released from her ballet class; dance moms eagerly vying for position, nearly scrambling over one another to spotlight their darling virtuoso.
And then my purpose shifted. I was no longer interested in the external cloak strangers wrapped around their souls. Their clothes, their hairstyles, their speech; it was all a disguise, a defense, a deterrent. These characteristics merely shrouded their core beauty, a dank and musty shell of their divine calling. Who were these people who sat mere inches from my seat?
It was then that I sought their eyes: making contact, reaching out, extending a smile. Connection. The moment is always brief, fleeting. But in that moment you gain a glimpse of someone’s soul and the beauty that reflects back is breathtaking.
And then… they are gone.
The characters change, the props shift, another act begins. Yet, there is a piece of them now connected to you, a thin fiber woven into your spirit. These fibers create a tapestry of kindness, beautiful colors and fabrics that permeate every ounce of your being.
This is how characters develop, one thread at a time.