An update from our twelfth Weekly Writing Workshop!
A summary of the workshop, plus some of the output published below
The Stone Soup Weekly Writing Workshop is open to all Stone Soup contributors and subscribers. Every Friday, we meet for an hour-and-a-half via Zoom to respond to a new writing challenge, write together in our virtual room, and then share what we have written with one another.
Our session on Friday June 19, attended by young writers in France, the UK and from across the United States, started with a discussion about shaping characters, and a question: How can we can create a sense of a character for our readers, without simply writing a list-like description of their looks, personality, hobbies and so on? Some of the workshop members who had attended the week’s summer camp with Stone Soup & Young Inklings–all about working on characters–talked about their experiences, and after a short discussion on the ways we might develop the feeling of a character, like a sketch or outline, the group spent time working on their pieces and then read aloud. Read on below to get a feeling for some of the powerful personalities we were given a glimpse of in this session!
The Writing Challenge: Write a short sketch that gives us a sense of the fictional character you are developing.
The Participants: Lorelei, Shreya, Lena, Anya, Katie, Maddie, Gegoire, Peri, Kanav, Georgia, Hera, Enni, Ever, Eugenie, Christina, Chloe, Enya, Tilly, Madeline, Kara, Charlotte, Sophia, Aditi, Liam H, Emily, Benjamin, Louise, Ace, James, Heather, Vishnu, Clotilde, Melanie, Thomas, Seraj and more…
The One with the Empty Eyes
Lena Aloise, 11
She was a small woman, shoulders hunched forward in their eternal brace, face expressionless, eyes empty pools of sunken darkness. Her lips were pursed tightly, corners of her mouth pointing downwards, as if she feared that something might slip out, that spoken words might make her more vulnerable. As if she was constantly fighting back tears, tears that brought back to much pain to let fall. The cornflower dress she wore was stunning, with a lace trimmed bodice and a skirt that fell to her ankles. But she, herself, was broken, shattered, despite once beautiful looks. A face that had once been the envy of every girl now was one that all shied away from. The soul was dead, although the heart still beat, and that drained the life from everything. Her sepia locks fell in waves down her back and every few minutes, a hand would reach up, grab a curl and finger it nervously. But those eyes stared straight ahead, not stopping for anything. Eyes that had seen horrors that no person should have to view. Eyes that were afraid of life itself, of seeing more, scared of the past.
They called her Mit Leeren Augun. The one with the empty eyes.
Peri Gordon, 10
In a mansion high atop a hill, there lived a refined duchess, with smooth and slightly tanned skin and crowned golden hair. Her name was Annabelle, and she wore only the finest clothing, made of satin with gold embellishments. She strutted around like a queen and was most always treated like one. She rarely left her soaring towers, but when she did ride her magnificent silver carriage into town, no one dared approach her, unless they were a dashing prince or strapping knight come to see her. If any commoner came within three feet of her, she would stare them down with her piercing blue eyes, and they would scurry off.
Lady Annabelle was a fine young duchess, and no one dared mess with her.
Enni Harlan, 13
A young girl crept down the carpeted stairs nimbly, as quiet as a mouse. Her face was stony and lacking any sign of childhood’s innocence, despite her youth. She was small, but possessed the sharpness of someone far beyond her age. Her clothing was ragged and filthy, but her short brown hair framed her face in a seemingly orderly manner.
The girl stopped at the foot of the staircase, her dark eyes darting about the room. Not a soul was awake, and the house was deathly silent. With a trembling hand, the girl struck a match and lit a candle. The room was instantly illuminated by its flickering glow. The timber bookshelves lined with dusty books appeared ancient in the forlorn room.
She tiptoed towards the bookshelf, and found herself removing the same book as always. It was the book of poetry she had treasured for years; the very one her mother had read to her as a child.
The little girl opened her satchel and dropped the book in, grimacing as it clattered loudly against the silver candlesticks she had taken from the bedroom upstairs. A door creaked open loudly upstairs, followed by a sequence of footsteps. The girl froze instantly, then darted out the door without a further thought. All that was left was an empty space in the bookshelf.
The child’s lean figure disappeared into the darkness of the night…
And the house was silent once more.
Anya Geist, 14
A Wise and Happy Boy
Kanav Kachoria, 11
Charles sits under a tree every day beside his barn writing poems,
He writes and writes,
Until the day hits night.
His skinny body from head to toe matched with his big brain almost makes no sense,
But it works for him since he is happy and is never tense.
Apples fall down,
And Charles eats and observes,
He is always calm,
And pleasure comes to him almost like it’s served.
No one is around him,
But only in the barn,
The only person who is not in the barn beside Charles,
Is Grandma getting her yarn.
Charles is like Shakespeare,
He is very smart,
And his writings are interesting,
As they are always a piece of art.
Charles is a very strange boy,
With the most joy,
He lives his life enjoying it,
And he tries to be his best to everyone as he is always cloying.
An Old Pasttime
Vishnu Mangipudi, 12
Georgia Marshall, 11
The portrait hangs on the wall innocently, depicting a young woman. Her skin, fair and smooth, glows like a chest of treasure. Her face gives off an aura of great cheeriness and warmth. Her emerald green eyes glow like a thousand stars, round and full of kindness. She has a soft silk shawl draped over her shoulders like a curtain. Golden ringlets frame her face, curling off at her deep dimples. Her moss colored dress billows around her like a cloak. She is beautiful. And yet, there is something else about her.
Though her eyes radiate gratitude when taken in by a glance, they show a different perspective when watched with careful attention. Hunger. Hunger for power. Kingdoms falling into the depths of despair by the treacherous hands of darkness. Soldiers lying motionless on the battlefield. Snakes thick as tree trunks wrapping themselves around sleeping maidens. All seen through her eyes. Her hunger.
When I try to run away, a strong wind begins to pull me back. It claws at my back, ripping my dress. I keep fighting it, pulling, screaming. I am sucked in. I can’t escape. Darkness falls upon me. And I see things. Terrible things. I hear screaming. Fractured, tortured, terrible screaming. I suddenly feel ravenously hungry. Hungry for a soul, hungry to be free of the burden of the portrait.
I am the lady of The Portrait. I feel her feelings. I know her whole life story. A tragic, heartbroken, treacherous story. About a girl fallen in love with a powerful sorcerer. An evil one. People had warned her not to love him, but she had fallen under his spell. He had cast her into a blank canvas. She had been bitter and resentful for years, so she had set her plan to work. She had put on an alluring mask, showing herself in a whole new light. Then she would capture her prey, put them in her place. She could finally escape her home, The Portrait.