Week Five: Character Sketch

Disclaimer: I am participating in the Start Writing Fiction course run by the Open University, on FutureLearn. I will be posting the things that I write as part of that course on this blog. Please note that these are all to be considered as drafts only, nothing will be a perfectly polished finished piece.

In this section we had to submit a 300-500 word piece for peer assessment.

This was the first time I was late in submitting something. I had planned on doing it at the weekend, but had quite a bad cold when it rolled around.

 

 


 

 

He sat alone in his kitchen, a warm mug of tea cradled in his wrinkled hands; the ticking of the clock on the wall the only sound to break the silence.

Dave was a simple man, always had been. He’d always hated having to share his personal space with anyone. Having someone sharing his house felt like having an invading army encroaching on his space, and the more their life seeped into his the more frustrated he became.

He liked things a certain way. There was no harm in that. Anyone could relate.

People who knew him said he was too quiet, too withdrawn, didn’t smile enough. Was he happy?

Of course he was happy, not everyone spent their entire life grinning like idiots just for the hell of it.

The clock continued ticking away, heedless of the grumpy old man grumbling away beneath it.

He finally had everything he had ever wanted, so why wasn’t he any happier?

He had a house to himself, away from the hustle and bustle of the city; he was able to retire early, and still live comfortably without financial worry; he was a published author, as he’d always dreamed of being.

What was missing?

With a mind of their own, his eyes wandered to the photograph pinned to his fridge, under the eye-less fish magnet.

The photo was taken almost thirty years ago, and had been displayed there almost as long, surviving even two fridge replacements over the years.  He always put it back; it was where it belonged after all.

In it was himself, aged twenty-five years old, and still in possession of all of his brown hair. All around him was his family. His mother, and her mother, God rest their souls. His two uncles, their spouses, and between them their six children, and their children as well.

What a madhouse that day had been.

It was the last birthday party he had had before his mother passed away.

He could recall the sounds of the day so clearly, the laughter bouncing off the walls of his grandmother’s house; the delicious scents of homemade cooking, and lemon cake that his mother and grandmother had laboured over all morning; the hilarious sight of his younger cousins having a water gun fight in the backyard under the sweltering Brazil sun.

All he could hear now was the ticking of the clock, resounding throughout his empty kitchen in his dream home. He’d gotten everything he wished for after all, hadn’t he?

Hadn’t he?

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Week Five: Challenging expectations

Disclaimer: I am participating in the Start Writing Fiction course run by the Open University, on FutureLearn. I will be posting the things that I write as part of that course on this blog. Please note that these are all to be considered as drafts only, nothing will be a perfectly polished finished piece.

This part was about stereotypes. We were tasked with: “Write a brief scene, around 300–500 words, in your notebook, in which you portray a character in a complex way, going against the usual expectations for such a character.”


 

Steve was thirty-seven years old, gloriously single, and worked in a small garage on the outskirts of town. ‘Small’ as in he was one of only three engineers who worked on the cars. The only other employee there was Stacey the receptionist/cleaner/chef/unofficial mother to the three of them. She was a lovely lady in his opinion, but he was genuinely slightly terrified of her.

Steve dragged himself out from underneath the car he’d been working on since his shift started this morning, wiped the sweat off his forehead with a grease-stained hand, and stood back to admire his handiwork with pride.

He loved this job, always had. Ever since he started his apprenticeship at the age of sixteen he’d known he was made for this work.  He found everything about the interior mechanics of cars to be fascinating, and there was always something new to learn.

Nothing was better than getting stuck in a project, tinkering about with parts and getting elbow deep in grease, often literally. He loved to fix things with his own hands, the satisfaction of repairing these beautiful and powerful machines until they were as new.

He reached out to run his hand along the scarlet bonnet, but stopped when he saw the streaks of black on his skin. He made his way over to the little solitary sink on the other side of the garage to clean his hands. He couldn’t see either Dave or Andy around anywhere, and couldn’t remember if he’d seen them leave.

Glancing up at the clock as he wiped his hands dry he was shocked to see that his shift was already over by ten minutes. No wonder it was quiet, everyone else must have gone home already. How time flies when you’re having fun!

He went to the small changing room next to the toilet at the back of the garage and got changed out of his dirty overalls, replacing them with his jeans and t-shirt, his other boots and his jacket.

He turned the lights off and locked the garage up behind him, and as he turned back around he saw his sister approaching up the drive. She parked in front of him and reached over to the lock on the passenger side to let him in.

“Sorry I’m late, I lost track of time at work” she said, breathless as if she’d ran the whole way. “But you know, you wouldn’t have to rely on me picking you up all the time if you’d just bloody learn to drive already.”

 

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Week Four: Developing your plot line

Disclaimer: I am participating in the Start Writing Fiction course run by the Open University, on FutureLearn. I will be posting the things that I write as part of that course on this blog. Please note that these are all to be considered as drafts only, nothing will be a perfectly polished finished piece.

For this part we had an example of ‘A woman on the bus today carried her Pekinese dog inside her handbag. It had a red bow on its head that matched her sweater.’ We were tasked with asking questions such as: ‘Why did she look the way she did?’ or ‘Why did the dog have a red bow?’, and developing the plot further.

My example is under the cut as it contains strong language and (implied) violence.

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Week Three: Generate something new

Disclaimer: I am participating in the Start Writing Fiction course run by the Open University, on FutureLearn. I will be posting the things that I write as part of that course on this blog. Please note that these are all to be considered as drafts only, nothing will be a perfectly polished finished piece.

For this part they asked us to come up with a new story using everything we’ve learned so far, with a minimum of 200 words and a maximum of 350 – to enable us to practice the editing lessons we just had I assume.

In the next part of the course we were to submit this piece for peer assessment.

They also mentioned that we may end up using this piece for a longer story later in the course.


 

There was a banana skin by the back door again.

Why is it always a banana skin?

Every Thursday, for the past two months a banana skin had been mysteriously appearing outside the back door of her house. It wasn’t there before she went to bed (she’d checked the past three Thursdays), but was suddenly there in the morning. 

Why is always Thursday?

Fiona just couldn’t figure this mystery out. 

The back door of her house was technically at the side, and wasn’t even viewable from either street. A fence blocked it from view from her neighbours. As far as she knew no one stood outside her house in the middle of the night eating bananas. 

Was a cat bringing them? 

Her husband and five-year-old son thought it was hilarious. She thought it was just plain frustrating. 

Do cats even eat bananas? 

She was seriously considering buying a quite expensive night vision security camera she’d seen online the other day. Her husband mightn’t forgive her for that one though.

At least he’d no longer find the situation so funny. 

The second option that she was considering was going around all of her neighbours and asking them if anyone in the area had recently purchased a pet monkey. However, she did not desire to become the laughing stock of the neighbourhood. 

I don’t know what to do.

Fiona did not know what to do.

 

 

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Week Three: Reviewing and redrafting

Disclaimer: I am participating in the Start Writing Fiction course run by the Open University, on FutureLearn. I will be posting the things that I write as part of that course on this blog. Please note that these are all to be considered as drafts only, nothing will be a perfectly polished finished piece.

For this part we were tasked with editing the story we wrote at the end of week two. Mine is here.

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Week Two: Ideas for a story

Disclaimer: I am participating in the Start Writing Fiction course run by the Open University, on FutureLearn. I will be posting the things that I write as part of that course on this blog. Please note that these are all to be considered as drafts only, nothing will be a perfectly polished finished piece.

For this part we were tasked with turning the radio on and writing about the first thing that we heard, using the writing techniques and tips we have learned so far.

Apparently we do not own a radio. So I turned the television on instead and got a cooking program where the lady was making something unrecognizable. It might have been meat, or a cake, or both. Who knows.

Warnings for violence. Or implied violence anyway. You’ll understand when you read it.

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Week Two: Finding a Voice

Disclaimer: I am participating in the Start Writing Fiction course run by the Open University, on FutureLearn. I will be posting the things that I write as part of that course on this blog. Please note that these are all to be considered as drafts only, nothing will be a perfectly polished finished piece.

For this part we were tasked with starting a sentence with ‘Emma said that…’ and then taking that part out later. We didn’t have to use the name Emma, any name would do.

Here are my three:

She preferred the rain over the sunshine. The sun was too bright and too hot, the rain was cool and painted the world around her in a soothing and neutral grey. Her favourite part of a rainy day was sitting inside next to a window and wearing a comfortable woolly jumper, as she listened the the rain tapping against the window.

Joe is a right cruel bastard who doesn’t deserve any forgiveness. He’d known just how much Gemma looked up to him, and he had used that against her. The sight of her crying into their mother’s shoulder made up Philip’s mind. Joe would pay for all that he’d done to his little sister.

She didn’t understand the young couples these days, always flitting between boyfriends and girlfriends like it was nothing to them. She’d known when she was just 15 years old that she would be with Harry for the rest of her life. And they had been, for the rest of Harry’s life. She couldn’t have bared to ever share her life with anyone else after him.

 

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