Writing Exercises – Building on a character & making a start

Or, some more bits and pieces from my writing course

In the third version of the character sketch the “he” at last gets a name, I delve a little more into the surroundings and add some more details like the character’s thoughts.

The other two (very) short pieces may also serve as inspiration for some new flash fiction – you never know!


Version 1 of the character sketch

He sat down at the front of the bus, shoulders slightly hunched, the thick camouflage jacket hiding a deceptively lean frame. Long grey hair that may once have been blonde was tied up in a hastily made bun, the cerise pink hair elastic pilfered from his daughter’s room in stark contrast with the greens and browns of the jacket meant to hide him in plain sight. Three day’s worth of grey stubble lined an ageing but handsome face. He stared at the road, noting every block the bus passed, ignoring the other passengers with their phones, books, tablets, and cameras.

Version 3 of the character sketch

Gareth sat down at the front of the afternoon bus, glancing at his watch and muttering to himself. Slightly hunched shoulders, covered by a thick camouflage print jacket hid a deceptively lean frame. Shoulder-length grey hair, which may once have been blonde, was tied up in an untidy bun, the cerise pink hair elastic pilfered from his daughter’s room contrasting with the greens and browns of the jacket meant to hide him in plain sight. He rubbed a hand over three day’s grey stubble that lined an ageing but handsome face. Shadowed eyes were turned to the road to note every block the bus passed while ignoring the other passengers with their smart phones, books, tablets, and cameras. In his hands, almost hidden beneath the jacket, was a letter in a rectangular envelope. Trembling, work-hardened hands played with the corner of the folded paper, bending the browned corner back-and-forth, back-and-forth as the bus rumbled and shook along the road. Indistinct music thumping a beat from earphones behind him dragged him back into the present and he glanced at his watch again. The bus is taking too long, he thought, fidgeting with the jacket’s zipper for a moment. Come on, come on! He watched the streets go by too slowly. Binney, Duke, Balderton, he repeated the names in his mind. Back-and-forth, back-and-forth, he bent the browned envelope. He glanced down at the old paper bearing only a date and time. The person it was intended for would know him, he had been told by the letter’s previous keeper.

Using familiar words in an unfamiliar context

The keys jingled a dull choir song as Frieda searched through the handful of metal for the key to the front door. Behind her an orange- pink watercolour sky slowly faded to dusk, silhouetting the city’s skyline in black and gold.

Finding a voice

(Emma said that) Flowers always made her think of funerals. The day her mother was buried it was raining softly – as was right, in her mind – and the church was filled to the brim with flowers. Her mother had been a botanist, after all, and it just seemed proper.


Categories: Fiction, Writing

Tags: , ,

3 replies

  1. As usual, really great evocative writing 🙂



  1. Writing Update: End of May 2017 – Hersenskim

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