I signed up for a fiction writing class at NYU this semester. Last week our assignment was to write a 250 word character sketch of someone by using appearance, action, speech, and thought to show what the character is like. We had the choice of a nerd, priss, flirt, snob, or bully. Luckily I chose nerd because I got 90% of what I needed by observing Ella at the library. Without too much effort, I brought out her nerdy side.
Deb hunches over her spelling assignment at a table in the public library. Her shoulders are pressed into her ears, and she has a firm grasp of her pencil as she writes the words 3 times each.
“Look!” she tells her mom, “One of the words is ‘thousand!’ I love this word. Thousand.” Deb sighs and looks out the window. She thinks about making up a thousand jokes someday. Having a thousand friends. Getting a thousand words wrong on a spelling test. The thought forces her to bite her middle finger nail until it bleeds. The taste of blood jolts her attention back to her assignment. She finishes while she singing softly, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Stronger.”
Deb’s little brother brings over a stack of Roald Dahl books for her. She picks through them saying, “Already read it. Read it. Read. Read them all.” She pushes them back to him and looks around. “Where’s Mia Cooper?” she says, “I saw her earlier. Mia Cooooper!”
Mia turns slowly a few tables in front of Deb. Deb blurts out, “Mia Cooper! Did you ride the subway here? I did. The B train. It was so crowded. I actually said 3 swear words out loud and no one heard me!” Mia looks down at the ground straight faced. Deb starts laughing hysterically until the chair she’s sitting in tips back completely. And on the way to the floor with her arms flailing, Deb shouts, “Fuuudge.”
Most of these events happened. I made up Ella's thoughts on the word thousand (she did say she loved that word), biting her nail until it started bleeding, and her friend not being nice. She's actually one of Ella's dear friends. I also made the part of Ella laughing hysterically. She told me she said bad words on the subway. She also fell off her chair but the two events were unrelated in real life.
I love being surrounded by people who give me so much material for class. This week we have to write character sketches about a domineering wife or a timid husband. Rob's turn to get turned into a character! It won't be easy to find his timid side, but I'm sure I'll find a way and love every minute of it.