Futurelearn: Start Writing Fiction: Exercise 3

Imagine two different venues for writing – one that seems most suited to you, and one that you would find bizarre or too difficult. Write a paragraph describing two writers at work, one in each of the venues.

Note: I probably misinterpreted this, and wrote a paragraph for each venue and person.

She stares out of the window absent mindedly and her notepad slips down her lap, drawing her attention sharply back to it. She catches it before it falls, crumpling a page slightly. She holds her pencil in her mouth while she straightens it, considers the small handwriting on the page briefly, and returns the writing implement to her hand to add more words. She notices nobody around her, has no idea she is being watched, and the rumbling of the tube train through tunnels and stations only disturbs her when the brakes are applied sharply and the driver grumbles about people leaning on the doors. While she writes the notepad is only inches from her face and the pencil tip moves furiously. Between scribbling she peers out at the sky for the most part, lost in thought, oblivious, and, if the upturned corners of her mouth are anything to go by, supremely satisfied.

He thinks of her, of the journey she is taking, as he stares at her photograph, framed and placed beside the monitor that his laptop is plugged into. The desk is otherwise clear of clutter, only the essentials surround him as he sits touch-typing. Each sentence is reworked, each idea has to be perfectly conveyed. He sits upright in the office chair he brought home from work when the space was upgraded, thankful for the arm rests that prevent his RSI from flaring up. The words on screen describe feelings of contentment and happiness but his face reflects nothing, muscles slack, only his eyes moving. He stops abruptly when his watch emits an alarm, takes a coffee break, and returns to the desk. The coffee is not allowed near it, and before he sits down he cleans a smudge from the screen and flicks imagined dust from the table. As the light fades, his face is illuminated by the screen and, lost in words, Edward doesn’t notice.

Futurelearn: Start Writing Fiction: Exercise 2

Review the notes you’ve collected in your notebook to find a character to develop further.

Write a short character sketch – no more than 200 words – in which you concentrate on appearance and any particular mannerisms you noted.

He barely looked old enough to be smoking, but it was clearly an ingrained habit. The stub of the cigarette was held firmly between his finger and thumb and he sucked on it with a quiet desperation as he walked briskly along the roadside. He looked as though he’d had a rushed start to the morning, his jeans had dried mud around the ratty turn ups and his hair had been neither washed nor combed, giving it a tousled don’t-care look. When he exhaled the smoke surrounded his head as though he were emerging from mists, bleary eyed and curious. When he decided that the cigarette was finished he threw it into the gutter behind him without looking and then he pulled out one of those bright blue cans of energy drink. Not just in a rush, then, but exhausted, too. If he’d been mature enough to grow a beard there would undoubtedly be stubble across his face to support my theory that last night had ended early this morning and no matter how blase he might act, he regretted it.