Short Character Sketch-Revamped!

The next assignment was to revamp the character sketch I did yesterday.

I hate re-editing, as do most people. But here I go:

She is sitting in front of the mirror,currently  filling in her eyebrows for a more dramatic look. She had told me “I only need 15 minutes to get ready” but that was  half-an-hour ago. I haven’t bothered to get out of bed yet. I only need a few minutes to get ready, throw on a new t-shirt and I am good to go.  She’s listening to Youtube videos on her phone, this time Judge Judy. She likes how Judge Judy doesn’t take crap from no one. Plus, as she points out, she’s learning  a lot about the legal system.   I roll my eyes, but that doesn’t stop me from listening to it too while I play Anipang on my phone.


I decided to try 1st person narration to give a bit more insight into a narrator. Similar elements of information as before, but a lot less descriptors and so called “purple” language as my friend Erica pointed out.

Reading Characters

From my Writing Fiction Class:

Take a look at these character sketches from George Orwell’s Burmese Days and Zoë Heller’s Notes on a Scandal. Note down how you think the writers are managing to portray character.

The first thing that one noticed in Flory was a hideous birthmark stretching in a ragged crescent down his left cheek, from the eye to the corner of the mouth. Seen from the left side his face had a battered, woe-begone look, as though the birthmark had been a bruise – for it was a dark blue in colour. He was quite aware of its hideousness. And at all times, when he was not alone, there was a sidelongness about his movements, as he manoeuvred constantly to keep the birthmark out of sight.

Orwell, G. ([1934] 1967), Burmese Days, Penguin: Harmondsworth, p. 14.

The first time I ever saw Sheba was on a Monday morning, early in the winter term of 1996. I was standing in the St George’s car park, getting books out of the back of my car when she came through the gates on a bicycle – an old-fashioned, butcher-boy model with a basket in the front. Her hair was arranged in one of those artfully dishevelled up-dos: a lot of stray tendrils framing her jaw, and something like a chopstick piercing a rough bun at the back. It was the sort of hairstyle that film actresses wear when they’re playing sexy lady doctors. I can’t recall exactly what she had on. Sheba’s outfits tend to be very complicated – lots of floaty layers. I know she was wearing purple shoes. And there was definitely a long skirt involved, because I remember thinking that it was in imminent danger of becoming entangled in her spokes. When she dismounted – with a lithe, rather irritating, little skip – I saw that the skirt was made of some diaphanous material. Fey was the word that swam into my mind. Fey person, I thought. Then I locked my car and walked away.
My formal introduction to Sheba took place later the same day when Ted Mawson, the deputy head, brought her into the staffroom at afternoon break for a ‘meet and greet’.
I was off in a far corner when Mawson ushered Sheba in, so I was able to watch their slow progress around the room for several minutes, before having to mould my face into the appropriate smile.
Sheba’s hair had become more chaotic since the morning. The loose tendrils had graduated to hanks and where it was meant to be smooth and pulled back, tiny, fuzzy sprigs had reared up, creating a sort of corona around her scalp. She was a very thin woman, I saw now. As she bent to shake the hands of seated staff members, her body seemed to fold in half at the waist like a piece of paper.
‘Our new pottery teacher!’ Mr Mawson was bellowing with his customary, chilling good spirits, as he and Sheba loomed over Antonia Robinson, one of our Eng Lit women. Sheba smiled and patted her hair.
Pottery. I repeated the word quietly to myself. It was too perfect: I pictured her, the dreamy maiden poised at her wheel, massaging tastefully mottled milk jugs into being.

Heller, Z. (2003) Notes on a Scandal, Penguin: London, pp. 11–13.


Orwell has a really simple, but vivid description of the character Flory.  His description is  written very straight forward and matter of fact.

Heller, on the other hand, describes Sheba through the voice of the narrator. Through this depiction of her, not only can you find out more about Sheba, but a lot about the narrator herself.

It’s interesting to see even through the act of describing another character, you can find out a lot about the narrator’s personality. I haven’t given much thought to before, but I definitely can see how it could be used as a narrative trick to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Short Character Sketch

Every morning before work she carefully constructs her appearance: filling in her eyebrows for a more dramatic look, adding eye shadow and extending her lashes with 3 coats of mascara, applying concealer and foundation, finally finishing up with lipstick which is a different shade depending on her outfit for the day which in itself takes a long time to assemble.

Today she shows off her long legs with a long, tan tunic top and white short-shorts which are covered by the tunic enough to give the impression she isn’t wearing pants. Over the tunic she wears a thin, green jacket to protect against the spring breeze.  She is blinged out: 3 rings on her hands, a flower chain necklace, earrings (2 triangle shaped dangly ones, and 3 studs in her other piercings including her right tragus). When she is bored she twirls her tragus earring. She can’t wear headphones in that ear, but that’s the price she pays for style.

She carries a fanny pack (tribal style pattern) slung across her chest. Her friend makes fun of her: “Fanny pack! That’s so ‘90s!”, but she shrugs, saying it’s only uncool when you wear it like they did back then.

She spends her time on the bus to work on her phone, which is so large it can barely fit in her hand. She complains about it how it’s on the way out despite being less than 2 years old, but that might be due to the fact she watches Youtube videos on it while showering.



This was only supposed to be 200 words, but I started getting carried away.  ha

Excellent: The motivation behind writing

Writing Fiction course assignment: 

Listen to audio of different writers discussing their motivation for writing and why they write, then answer the questions

  • What were the similarities in their respective journeys towards writing?
  • How much did fact mix with fiction in the way their own life experience and personal circumstance influenced them as writers?
  • What elements of your life experience and personal circumstance do you think might influence your writing?

Most of the writers said they had grown up always doing writing of some kind, whether it was comics, journals, or short stories. A few of them said they wanted to write about things that made them angry.

Personal circumstances definitely had a big influence on them as writers. Actually, I don’t know any of the writers who were speaking ( Alex Garland, Michèle Roberts, Tim Pears, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Monique Roffey and Louis de Bernières.), but you could hear how  different their writing topics would be just based on  what they were saying.  For example, one woman talked about how going to Catholic Church every Sunday for years had a BIG impact on her and what she writes about.

I think in my writing I useda lot of personal life experiences or experiences that I have heard from others. Whenever someone tells me a crazy or a funny story, I file it away for future reference. Another thing  I really love doing is reading science and cultural articles. The more I read them, the more I think that I could use this weird fact or tidbit in a future story.

For example, I recently had a dream where doctors had to cut out my twin which had been a part of me since birth, but was starting to interfere with my body like this man. It was a horrifying dream. And yet, it had all the makings of a good movie or story!