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Writing 101, Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.

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Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).

Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.

Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

In displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalizations!

— Anton Chekhov, Letter to Alexander Chekhov; May 10, 1886

Describing people — whether real or fictional — in a way that channels their true essence is an invaluable skill for any writer. Through the careful accumulation of details, great authors morph their words into vivid, flesh-and-bones creations in our minds. How can you go about shaping your portrait of a person? Some ideas to explore:

Don’t just list their features. Tell us something about how their physical appearance shapes the way they act and engage with others. For example, see how the author of this moving photo essay, which documents the final weeks of a woman dying of cancer, captures the kernel of the woman’s spirit with a short, masterful statement:

Her eyes told stories that her voice didn’t have the power to articulate and she had a kindness that immediately made me feel like we had been friends for years.

Give us a glimpse of what makes this person unique. We all have our own quirks, mannerisms, and individual gestures, both physical and linguistic. If you’re looking for inspiration, read this blogger’s portrait of her French host family — after reading the first two paragraphs, you already have intimate knowledge of who these people are and what drives them.

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons.

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    1. I am not sure what you are asking but if you are asking how to get it here. you just paste it in the comment. paste latest blog address

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    2. Hi Daphne, as jensiper mentions, all you need to do to share your post with people here is to publish it on your own blog, then copy and paste the URL in a comment here. That’s it!

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  1. Ben, I’ve been reading your thoughts on blogging and writing for a while now and just wanted to pipe up and say good job, sir! You are part of what elevates WordPress far above its competitors. Thanks for sharing your helpful tips and ecouraging everyone to do more, and be better!

    Bonus points for quoting Chekhov.

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    1. Thank you for this very generous comment! I’m really happy to hear you’re enjoying your time here.

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  2. I normally would go for a family member, like my grandmother or my son. But this time I am going to go for something deeper and newer, I have a couple in mind. Guess ya’ll will find out later.

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  3. This is a great topic because it has some depth to it. Another version to this (which would be great for another day’s challenge) is what character building event occurred in your life?

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  4. Here is my humble offering for today. I am not sure I am exactly “in line” with what we were prompted to write about, but this is what IMMEDIATELY came to mind when I saw the prompt. So, here goes: http://wp.me/p4GYu2-1l

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