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An update from our sixty-ninth Writing Workshop

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, October 1

In this workshop, students created rapid character sketches: short writing pieces that give a sense of a character by focusing on the face, body, and clothing. Students gathered inspiration from pieces such as Leonardo da Vinci’s grotesques, The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter, and Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony. (Beethoven’s Sixth was used to demonstrate the difference between a fully developed character’s story and just a glimpse of a character; the participants listened to the same piece played by a full orchestra and by just a piano.) William discussed how an author uses words to create visions in the mind of the reader the same way a magician creates illusions with smoke and mirrors, and how authors use character sketches to convey the essence of new characters. He emphasized that a character’s appearance can match or contrast with their personality. As mini-challenges, students wrote character sketches to describe images William provided (a sketch of a young girl, and later a photograph of a homeless man and a self-portrait by Rembrandt), and they later described original characters. The students were asked not to tell a whole story but to give quick yet meaningful snapshots of characters, leaving the reader to imagine the rest.

The Challenge: In ten minutes, write three or more quick sketches of humans or animals. You can think about different ages, professions, types of people, and emotional states.

The Participants: Anya, Ava, Celia, Crystal, Greta, Liam, Nami, Pearl, Rachael, Reethi, Yueling

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