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An update from our sixty-third Writing Workshop

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday April 23, plus some of the output published below

In this workshop, William practiced the concept of fast sketching characters. Sometimes, less is more when it comes to detail, and a sparse description of a character is really all you need for your character to come to life for the reader. The writers saw examples from literature, including some from Beatrix Potter, Suzanne Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle. As a mini-writing challenge, William showed two portraits (one a photograph of a man in New Orleans, and the other a self portrait by Rembrandt) and had students write descriptions of them in five minutes. 

The Challenge: Write a character sketch that introduces your character's physical appearance.

The Participants: Pearl, Peri, Eric, Sana, Madisen, Anya, Sally, Amelia, Lena, Lina, Elbert, Yueling, Liam, Aditi, Delight

To watch all of the readings from this workshop, click here

Pearl Coogan, 9 (Purcellville, VA)

Why Do I Have to Be Perfect?

Pearl Coogan, 9

My hair was long and flowing and looked like a field of wheat on a sunny day. My eyes were as blue as the middle of the ocean and as soft as a the fur of a Pomeranian dog. My nose was symmetrical and fairly small. My lips looked as perfect as a supermodel’s lips. My skin was gorgeously tanned from countless days spent sunbathing at the pool and the beach and as smooth as a river rock. My neck was long and elegant, like a giraffe’s neck. My legs were also long and graceful. My body was thin and tall.

The bikini I was wearing was the most expensive and fancy one available at the store. The top and bottom were both mostly orange, but the orange was surrounded by little black jewels that made the swimsuit look like a pool of lava surrounded by rocks. The coverup I had on over the bikini was all black and made of silk. Even my towel was leopard print and had gleaming gems on it.

At least that’s what everyone thought of how I looked and what I wore. I liked to consider myself a normal person who looked normal and was not the daughter of two super-rich celebrities. At least at the pool paparazzis didn’t follow me around like a dog sniffing out a bone. At least at the pool, the only thing people said about me was about my fancy swimsuit and how tall and thin I was. No one could recognize me with my hair under a cap and goggles covering my eyes and all of my makeup washed off. That’s why I went to the pool every summer day.

Taking off my coverup, I ran to the edge of the pool, ready to jump in. “No running!” The lifeguard yelled. I slowed down but still jumped in with a huge splash. The water was cold, but I didn’t care. Flipping onto my back, I swam across the pool on my back. When I got to edge, I flipped to my stomach and started swimming in a butterfly stroke, slipping under the rope that separated the 8-foot deep end from the 5-foot area. I took a deep, thankful breath as I got to one side of the deep end.

I crawled out of the pool, and, just as I was walking towards the waterslide, a voice called out my name. The voice of my mother, Lili Joes, who was a famous singer. “Teri! Have you seriously forgotten about my concert today?!” A million gazes turned on me as everyone realized that the daughter of a world-famous celebrity was at the neighborhood pool.

I buried my face in my hands, whispering, “Why do I have to be perfect?”

Peri Gordon
Peri Gordon, 12
(Sherman Oaks, CA)

A Wasted Opportunity

Peri Gordon, 12

For someone who claimed not to care what others thought of him—someone who spent most of his time working underground—he was extremely handsome. He had the eyes of an African elephant—reddish-brown, shimmering, and thoughtful—and his hair was as thick and shiny as otter fur. But his hair hadn’t been combed, and he wasn’t offering some captivating smile to complete his dazzling look—he wasn’t aware of the unique, natural sort of beauty he possessed. And his clothes were plain black and three sizes too big, like he was a snake in the process of shedding his skin. His involuntary charm was all there, but he himself wasn’t doing anything to add to it, because—again—he didn’t care what others thought of him. His brow was wrinkled—with concentration or concern, no one could tell—and his full lips could have been used in a math class to demonstrate parallel lines, making it even harder to pick up on his thoughts. Whatever they were, he was probably thinking with great intellect. He was a wasted opportunity—a boy who could’ve been beautiful, could’ve been a genius, if only he had given himself a chance.

Eric Muller, 11 (San Diego, CA)


Eric Muller, 11

Into the room walked a man of elegance and manner, his gait highlighting each step as a small show of dignity and each soft landing of the foot a show of delicacy. He dressed in a long black suit of an older time, and had on his head neatly combed and fashionably styled orange hair, which stopped at the edge of his ears in perfect symmetry. His face was distinctly elegant like the man himself, with shallow creases only beginning to intrude on his otherwise soft face, and his eyes were a calm pool of blue and gray, the colors intermixing in some spots as the two colors had blended together into a duller, more melancholy blueish gray. His lips were shallow and relatively colorless compared to some of the other party-goers, though they held in their own right a sense of grace. His cheeks were soft, peachy hills, and they rose only slightly from the rest of the skin surrounding them. His face ended in a smooth chin that only added to his appearance of a man of great esteem, which he clearly held himself in as he slowly and gracefully walked down the halls.

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