We were given a selection of picures of people and asked to choose someone to write about. We were specifically asked not to write a story, just a character sketch of the person. The assignment for the next meeting will be to write a story using the character we developed in this exercise.
I generally learn about my characters as I write the story. It helps me to get to know them better. But I tried, and I managed to develop a character who I now know quite a bit about. It is very possible that not all the things I mention here will appear in the final story. But nevertheless, they will definitely colour the way the story progresses. To that extent, it's been a valuable thing to do. I'm not sure I'd like to do it regularly though...
Meet Bill. Hes a long distance lorry driver, but hes a freelance contractor rather than an employee which means that he is his own boss. Bill regards that as very important because when he accepts a job he can choose the route that he takes to get to his destination, and he can set his own driving hours. Bill is proud of his reputation for reliability. He always makes sure that his cargo is delivered on time. He likes the freedom that his working practices give him. He hates the routine of regular employment. The drudgery of clocking in and out and working fixed shifts is not for him. He much prefers the freedom of the open road.
Bill works to live. He doesnt define himself by his job. He regards his job simply as a means to an end it supports his lifestyle and his hobbies. Bills ambition is to retire. He has no interest in climbing the corporate ladder and he has no interest in expanding his business. As long as he can make enough money to be able to eat, drink and be merry, Bill is quite happy.
Bill feels uncomfortable around other people. He never knows how to hold a conversation with strangers. Small talk is a mystery to him. Alone on the road, with only himself for company, he feels happy and relaxed.
Bill is an avid stamp collector and when accepting a job and planning his route he always makes sure that he will be travelling through towns and cities that are well supplied with antique and junk shops that he can scour for bargains. He loves the thrill of coming across old letters and postcards in piles of rubbish from a deceased estate that the proprietor had picked up long ago as a job lot and then abandoned in a dusty corner of the shop. The shop owners are seldom aware of the value of the stamps on this dead correspondence and over the years he has made some amazing finds. Once he came across a two-penny blue from 1840 on the envelope of a letter from someone in England that was addressed to his son in care of the whaling vessel Nimrod. Bill paid $5 for the box of miscellaneous papers that contained this letter. He was never sure how he managed to keep a straight face when he handed the money over. He was certain that he could sell the two-penny blue for at least $700. Not that he would ever sell it, of course. He took it home with him and now he has it mounted in an album which he takes out to gloat over on quiet evenings when there is nothing worth watching on the television.
Nine months ago, in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Bill was abducted by aliens and now he is pregnant. The baby is due any day...