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.

Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Exercise 1

The challenge:

Write a paragraph (50 to 100 words) containing one fact and three fictitious elements. You can write about yourself, about your interests, about history – about anything you like. Then try the reverse – write a paragraph containing three facts and one fictitious element.


My mother always said that enduring an unusual name would build character, which is why I’m known as Max even though I’m female. My brother fared even less well, being dubbed Bonzo, and under this influence my sister eventually came to name her own children Denver (a girl) and Hendrix (a boy).

I grew up on a council estate in the midlands where I was lucky enough to attend one of the best, most forward thinking primary schools around in the late 70s. It was just as well, because my senior school left a lot to be desired, what with being rebuilt around us and staffed by teachers who ranged from astounding to dire in their skills. Going to school on a building site is not an ideal situation, but if generations beyond my own were to see school buildings without holes in the floor, leaking walls and dangerous staircases, somebody had to endure it. I often left home in the morning and found somewhere better than school to be, much to my parents’ chagrin.