26 November 2008

This is a writing technique called the personality sketch, which is commonly used for feature writing in paperbacks but has gained popularity in more mainstream media such as newspapers, magazines, periodicals, etc. Choose a person that you know (or create one using your imagination) and write a glimpse of his or her life, personality, idiosyncrasies, etc. Personality sketches usually use anecdotes, direct quotations, physical description, etc., but for the purpose of this writing activity, one can be more “creative” or “imaginative.” At least 200 words. I did mine with a twist--I chose a person with a more subjective personality sketch compared to normal people. Here it is:

(346 words)

“I’m a wizard,” Sam says to me in greeting, his head hidden behind the hood. He stands up and the light hits his face, a sinister grin. He takes out his wand and gracefully waves it in the air.

At 23, he is burly. The last time I saw him, he looked tentative, frightened, not sure of himself. He has grown a beard now but it hasn’t completely hidden his boyish face. But still, his movements convey an easy confidence, almost a swagger. Beneath deep-set brows, his eyes glimmer as they follow his hands. I looked closely at his left wrist — there is still some visible scarring, but not recent, which provides some comfort. He recites his incantations and the boom of his voice is convincing. His unbridled brio seems to cast a spell on me. For a moment he stares at me with such intensity that I’m almost compelled to look away. I hold his gaze and his face breaks into a smile. He still recognizes me. He clasps his hands, makes a friendly bow and retreats to the far corner of the room.

“It’s nice to see you again, Warlock,” Dr. Crawford calls out to me. I smile at his joke and turn away from the glass panel to shake his hand.

“How is he?” I ask, reverting my gaze to Sam.

“No incidents since your last visit,” Crawford replies. “But we’re not taking any chances, he stays in this room for an indefinite period of time. You know how unpredictable he is. For the record, what you’re seeing now is Personality 23. Obviously, we don’t want Violent Sam to resurface again.”

I review Sam’s file on my hand. Genius IQ. Played fullback in high school. Diagnosed at 20. Arrested at 21. Declared C.I., which saved him from the gas chamber. Brought to Baltimore State Hospital four weeks later. Two incidents during incarceration, one intern severely injured, the other not so lucky.

I look up and stare at Sam through the glass panel. He smiles at me again. Who will you be tomorrow, Sam?


A Piece of Garb

19 November 2008

Supposing you or someone you know, or a character has been given something new to wear. Describe it, showing how it feels or what it means to the people involved. Here is what I did:

(276 words)

He was half awake when she greeted him with a soft kiss on the cheek. He turned to look at her face and that familiar smile — reassuring, playful, yet sad. She giggled and draped the new shirt on his face. He feigned sleep and pretended to snore. She said nothing and buried her head on his chest. As he stroked her hair, he could smell the scent of the new fabric. That smell had always bothered him, he remembered how he had always hated trying on shirts at the mall. This time it was different.

She propped up and took the shirt. He sat up to take a better look at it in the morning light. It wasn’t the type of shirt that he usually gets from the store. Its bright color was in contrast to his sable preferences, the design of the print was a tad austere. But she lifted it, slid it slowly through his head and deftly guided his arms through the sleeves. Her fingers glided softly through the shoulders to smoothen the folds, her hands hovering here and there — caressing, flattening the creases on the seams. Every movement was defined, every gesture fraught with meaning. He was watching her all this time but she didn’t look at him. She was staring at the new shirt but he could tell that her mind was somewhere else. He took her hands and held them silently. She pulled him to her and hugged him for a long time. “It looks good on you,” she whispered to his ear, “don’t lose it.” Then she let go and walked across the room to finish packing her bag.


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