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?


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