Intro to Novel Writing: Assignment 4 – CHARACTER SKETCH

Character Sketch

This is the 4th assignment in the course INTRODUCTION TO NOVEL WRITING offered by The Writer’s Workshop • The class is taught by Jana Harris • The text used for this class is The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray 
 • December 6, 2020 Assignment 4

ASSIGNMENT 4: Character Sketch – Write about 500 or more words about your protagonist, using the strategies discussed in The Weekend Novelist. Later, you’ll want to boil this down to 250 words, but for now, try to define your subject extensively, using the shotgun approach. Include everything, the good, the bad, the ugly. Don’t whitewash.

This was the response by the teacher to the character sketch:

You have a fabulous and believable voice. This really has the ring of truth to it. And your writing flows, like it is falling out of your cuff and was easy to write (which I am sure it wasn’t). We have a lot of sympathy for this character, her story would appeal to both YA and adult readers. Most of Audra’s experiences are the universal experiences of all women coming of age (or if they can’t remember their coming of age, they can look at their daughters and see them in Audra).

— Jana Harris

Merry Christmas to ME! Man, do I feel good. I used the addition feedback she gave me within the text. I used it. This particular assignment was very emotional for me to write as this was so close to the bone. While this is strictly a work of fiction, I am in it. I have to be. I wrote so much more than what is written here (just as the teacher supposed) which some of it I will use. Some of it was the incantation I used to call up that sad 12 year old who felt so alone among her childhood ruins.  As Jana pointed as lonely as it was at the time, it is a universal theme. The world stretches and strains with the longing, confusion, and hurt of 12 year old girls. 

Here is the revision with her edits:

Character Sketch – Audra Noon

The wooden Wishing Rocker creaked from the strain as her fanny filled the saddle. Last year, she had been able to stand on the flat of the armrests and balance as she rocked the chair forward and back. She worried her recent weight gain might collapse the support spindles. She longed for last year’s body when people called her a bean pole. No one called her that anymore. Now, she was more a bean pod than a pole. Her insides swelled bulbous and curved under her protective skin. Along the sides of her breasts and hips were the fine purplish stretch marks showing the strain as if her shell couldn’t contain her. Once she had been the tallest in her class, now as everyone else around her continued to grow up, she grew out.

Months ago, her mother had arrived home with a small box which when she opened, a strappy contraption sprang out. “No training bra for you, young lady. You’ll be out of this B cup in no time.” Her mother pulled, tugged and marveled at the 18Hour bra’s girth and elasticity. She divulged that when she was Audra’s age, she longed for Audra’s shape.

Here was Audra longing for her mother’s build – athletic and solid like a woman playing Peter Pan. This kind of body could straddle a rocking chair at any age. Her mother’s insistence on cultivating Audra’s shape with undergarments and other clothes only caused Audra to climb back into her old ones. She hoped if she corseted the curves and folds, she could at least appear like she once did. Her thighs and hips plumped at the waist and through the tears in her jeans; her tank top revealed the plunge along the neckline; and her ripped up canvas sneakers caused her pinky toe to flee the confines of the rubber sole.

She was home alone so often now. In her rocking reverie, she deluded herself into believing she could wish her body back into its former shape. During the commercial breaks of her favorite soap opera One Life to Live, she launched herself off the Wishing Rocker to run to the bathroom mirror. Her cocoa colored hair was cut into a shag – not long, not short but choppy and boyish. As she halted in front of the mirror, she caught sight of herself before she could screw up her face or attempt to flatten her fecund figure safely back into the pod. She lifted her gaze, which so often these days was trained on her feet, to meet her own big, round eyes that matched the hue of her hair. The matchy-matchy coloring, the almost comic inflection of her voice, and how her eyes flitted upward gave the impression of hyper femininity as if she were Betty Boop.

This class is funded by a generous endowment to my writing by my mom. 

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Lesa Quale Ferguson

Writer + Picture Taker ^ Image-Maker & Design Web-ber #Ma

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