character sketch


Feb. 4, 2019.  The prompt for Monday’s meeting was taken from the book titled, The Pocket Muse – ideas and inspirations for writing, by Monica Wood.

A Tip on Style

Colors can be delivered as similes that
suggest something about the character’s
inner life. Your reader will receive a
character in a red shirt a little differently
if that shirt is described as the color of
spilled wine or fresh liver or SpaghettiOs.
A person’s skin can be the color of dead
leaves or dust or mud or newborn mice or
cocoa or cantaloupe or cream or plums or maize …

Write a character description using colors to imply or suggest internal aspects of the character as a way to lead the reader in developing a more rounded picture of who the character is.



The Dancer Still

The following is by Writers in the Grove member, Lorelle VanFossen, and is based upon the Prompt-a-Month: Dance.

Texturized art effect of ballet dancer on pointe in arabesque.Toe pointed. Leg elongated. Feel the burn through the calf muscles as they push the reach even further. Thigh muscles combine to lift and stretch the leg beyond the normal range, a straight arrow pointed toward the floor away from the body, toe not touching, every line straight and arched in all the right places as if coaxing the toe longer a little more. Just a little more. Reach, strain, stretch, push, tighten, balance, yet relax. Don’t let them see the pain. Head tilted down at an angle, shoulders pulled back, arms thrust forward reaching but hesitating, palms up, thumbs wide, fingers closed, curled, begging. The other leg bent, knee aligned in the direction of the other, heel down, glued to the floor, a stable foundation. An illusion of stability. A brush of wind would knock her over. A forward step paused in mid motion. Make it look effortless. Make it look like it is a gentle yearning, a pleading with the body to take just one tiny step in that direction, ahead but holding back, cautious. It is a dangerous step. One that leads to another, and another, and another step forward into the unknown.

Elaina kept this position for as long as she could, keeping the tension in her body in a tug of war between relaxed and tight, straining with the effort. She didn’t hear the clock ticking in the hall, the purring of the cat wandering nearby, nor the roar of cars outside the door on the street. She heard pain, a sweet familiar pain, ringing through her body, buzzing in her ears, knocking against her heart begging her for release. She felt the warmth of a spotlight against her closed eyes, the moment frozen, ready to burst out onto the stage with the unheard embrace of the music’s thrust.

She ignored the fact that it was only the morning sun through the front window peaking through the pale blue curtains. Through the rushing noise of the passing cars, she heard the gasp of an audience at her entrance, one step, then frozen in this pose, waiting for the music to queue that next step, but held, anticipating the moment she would take that next move, ablaze in feathers, sequins, and chiffon, disguised as a worn-out house dress.

When her body could no longer hold the moment, the audience straining with her now, feeling the tension, breathing with her, on the edge of their seats, she took that step forward, placing her right foot on the carpeted floor, pushing herself forward over the toe, leaning down and up into the move, her body straightened, head up, arms lifted higher, her other leg straight out behind her at a point. She held this for thirty seconds, allowing the clanging to quiet in her head, the body now in a more stable, relaxed state.

Her cat wandered by and wound around her standing ankle. Elaina opened her eyes and looked down into those wide golden eyes framed with soft gray hair. The cat meowed, the open mouth turning into a yawn with a whining sound as she completed another rotation then headed off toward the kitchen where she knew food would soon appear. (more…)


The following is by Writer’s in the Grove member, Lorelle VanFossen, inspired by Prompt: Three Random Words with Same First Letter and Share. The prompt was to write down three nouns that start with the same letter and have nothing to do with each other, then pass them to your neighbor for the writing prompt. The words were truth, trouble, and transition.

She stood at the crossroads of her life as well as the intersection of Hindspitter and Fredricksville Roads, next to her car, a boring, blue Mazda like millions of other broken down, boring blue Mazdas on the road over the past twenty years, ignoring the steam hissing from its tightly clenched jaws. She chewed a broken thumbnail, the result of five minutes trying to force open those jaws to inspect the damage. It remained closed, as did her options for rescue.

Her cell phone gave up contact with civilization about 5 miles ago. Sarah stood in the middle of nowhereville rural Oregon, on the eastside where rain rarely visits. The old junker barely made it over the pass and couldn’t cope with the rising morning temperatures, and neither could she. She gave up on the thumb and ran a sleeve across her forehead. It didn’t help.

With no car in sight, the truth was life looked as bleak as these roads. She had 20 minutes to either magically repair her car or get rescued to make her job interview in Fredricksville. This was a long way to come for a job, but there were few options left closer to Portland. Fifty-six job interviews in six months since losing her high school teaching gig, it must be a world record. Job hunting was expensive. With no wand or wizard in sight, she could hear even more money sliding down the hole in her already empty wallet. Damn car.

A vulture swept down and landed on the Hindspitter street sign and hissed at her.

“Wait your turn, buddy,” she glared at him. “I still got some fight left.” She leaned back against the overheated vehicle and closed her eyes against the relentless sun, considering her lack of options.

Who names a street Hindspitter? Was there a family who owned this hunk of desert, or some unfortunate who died along the wagon road, his name forever immortalized with a blue road sign? Hindspitter. Imagine introducing yourself. “Hi, I’m one of the Hindspitters.”

The car hiccuped and spat a new burst of steam out the front grill.

She sighed and replied, “Wrong end.”