(MA) DTLT: TECW – Week 23 – The Character Exercise

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Step 1

Choose a character, write a list of curiosities and chose the most intruiging and interesting

Think about the character’s appearance, profession and personality

Step 2

Place the character in a specific situation

Step 3

Answer the following questions:

– where is your character?

– what can they see under their feet?

– what can they see in the distance?

– what can they touch with their hands

– what can they smell?

Brainstorm

Corporal Williams, female soldier, athletic, shaved, polygot, loner, logical, decisive, ambitious, impatient, moody and sensitive. Insomniac. Desire to prove herself. Wants to quit smoking. Wears dirty military fatigues. Doesn’t speak much. Very effective as a commanding soldier. On a spacecraft. On a dangerous mission.

Write the First Paragraphs

A constant hum of machines labouring under constant use, fills the airy void. The walls are twisted aluminium sheets, light-weight and durable, lasers beaming against polished titanium ionic columns. The low ceiling is overrun with wires and cables, the floor below lain with grids of iron. A whiff of gas permeates the environment. Drones hover around the dim lights, seemingly identifying patterns. The SS is the newest craft of its kind, co-captained by Artificial Intelligence devices, engaged in deeper learning using computer algorithms.

Corporal. Michelle Williams is one of the few soldiers with specialist knowledge of neural networks stationed aboard this spacecraft. She was drafted in to oversee the work of the robots and drones, but had been recently demoted to a guard position. Of athletic build, the shaved head atop her stocky frame manages to attract and repel in equal measure. And yet a subtle movement which draws the attention from scalp to face, rewards the viewer with two small oceans, so crystal clear and deep, that each blink seems to bring minute waves crashing and flashing in the corner of her green eyes. They dart this way and that, wary of any signs of movement from the heavily-guarded prison room just metres away.

She wears military fatigues now, faded, dirty and dust-laden. So worn, you cannot see where the materials end, and her skin begins, impossible to peel off. With a certain precision, she unbuttons her top pocket and swiftly removes a crumpled cigarette box. A simple shake reveals one, solitary, nicotine-stick. “Merde, a la fin” she hoarsely whispers to herself. Her voice a mythical device, short is she with words, preferring to do rather than say. The tabacco butt is gently placed on her lower lip, the upper lip moves to enclose it. A v-sign is made and she slowly mimicks the action of a smoker. But there is no lighter. There is no smoke. Today she is not smoking. Today there is no struggle with addiction. For other things haunt her. Other things cloud her mind.

Coming from a family of decorated soldiers, refusing to follow command translates as naked ambition, burdened is she with a desire to be the best. And the guise of haunting mute is validated by successful mission executions. Heightened spatial awareness coupled with an uncanny ability to pre-empt logistical complications, one would regard her a valuable asset were she not so aversive to cooperating with others. But relationships are inevitable aboard the ship. Trust, the foundation of all communication. Co-dependency the difference between life and death. This, Corporal. Williams learned the hard way. This, was a valuable lesson that ended in pain. And no matter how many cigarettes she put out, the dying words of her partner burned in her mind.

Reflections

I think this has been a very useful exercise, that helped me flesh out my character and explore where she is and what she is doing. Now I need to combine this beginnning with the first draft I have already penned. The second draft will be published soon!

1 Comment on “(MA) DTLT: TECW – Week 23 – The Character Exercise

  1. Very exciting! I felt as if I were reading a Star Trek episode!
    We have a more direct and deep access to your character and her environment now and it’s great, we empathise with her now, we care, we want to know, not only ‘what will happen’ but ‘what is going to happen to her’.

    A very powerful line was for me when she talked. Is she French? That made her so real. Maybe concentrate on this type of ‘showing’ her, her words, her actions. Some descriptions (like her relationship with smoking and her relationship with people) would be highly enhanced if transformed into actual scenes when we see her ‘in action’ (maybe flashbacks). Remember that the more specific, the better. Great exercise!
    I look forward to reading the new version of the story.

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