Description Exercise

I love it when a writer can bring a character to vivid, over-the-top, technicolor life in just a few sentences. Check out this example from Canadian writer, Guy Vanderhaeghe's "The Watcher".

"Easily six feet tall, she carried a hundred and eighty pounds on her generous frame without prompting speculation as to what she had against girdles. She could touch the floor effortlessly with the flat of her palms and pack an eighty pound sack of chicken feed on her shoulder. She dyed her hair auburn in defiance of local mores, and never went to town to play bridge, whist or canasta without wearing a hat and getting dressed to the teeth. Grandma loved card games of all varieties and considered anyone who didn't a mental defective."

Brilliant, eh?

Too often description of characters are limited to just physical characteristics, especially when the characters are first introduced. For this exercise I would like to you to think about how you usually describe a character and try something new. Something bolder. Strive to write a description as original and interesting as your character, just as Vanderhaeghe has done. He could have simply told us Grandma was big strong woman with red hair that liked to play cards, but what a loss to literature that would have been.

Try describing:

- a neighbour
- your grade seven teacher
- a cashier from the supermarket
- your favourite uncle

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