Sunday, March 6, 2011

Module 2 - Creative Writing Course

Module 2 of the creative writing course with Sydney Writers' Centre was about developing characters.

For our assignment, we had to develop a character, then write a personals ad for him or her. The second part of the assignment was that the character had to explain/defend the personals ad to someone who found out about it. Here's my effort:

Man seeks wife. 32yo Mallee boy seeks country girl for future together. I am a family man, self employed, living in a great community. Must love utes, animals, and fishing. Send a photo to for a first date.
"Fuck! Who told you? She can't keep her mouth shut. I s'pose I shouldn't have expected it to stay a secret 'round here. You know how me mum and sisters get after a few wines. This ad was their latest idea. You should've seen their first effort. No way was I letting them post that! It was cross between a romance novel and an ad for a housekeeper! Mum's even getting the emails sent to her, so she can go through them first.
"But mate, I'm getting old. How long've you and Jode been together now? Twelve years? You'll be a fuckin' Pop before I had kids. I don't wanna be an old dad. I wanna be able to kick a footy around with me son. I wanna come home to a meal around the table with a family. I want my name passed on, and the property to stay in the family. There are no girls around here my age that haven't been through every guy already. How else am I gunna meet someone? I never get away from here. Mate, this has to work."

Here's the tutor's feedback:

Jacqui, I just love the mum getting the emails first to vet them!

That tells us more about the family than anything else could.  It’s lovely details like this which build up a picture of the character’s background and environment.  If you really write this story the mum and the sisters have to be vivid and funny but with their own stories and issues. 

Is he talking to his brother-in-law?  Who is the ‘she’ who can’t keep her mouth shut?

That will determine the relationship with the other guy, which I’d like to see develop a bit – can you have him say something your main character doesn’t expect?

Because the assignments don't ask for much detail, I prefer to be subtle. I like leaving a lot of questions open for the reader, some mystery in the character, that will unfold gradually.
So far, so good.

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