Monday, November 12, 2007

Go Character!

Posted by Lisa

Before I moved to California, my writers' group gave me presents. Not good-bye gifts - I saw them just last night online – rather we’ll-miss-you-in-person presents. One of the books they handed me in that Starbucks in Cohasset, was To Kill a Mockingbird. Like many writers, I have favorite books. This has become one. As a jumpstart to your writing week, here’s some brilliant character descriptions written by the author, Harper Lee.

(Thanks again, Amy, Hannah, and Lynne!)

Jem and I found our father satisfactory; he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment.
Calpurnia was something else again. She was all angles and bones; she was near sighted; she squinted; her hand was as wide as a bedslat and twice as hard….Our battles were epic and one-sided. Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side. She had been with us ever since Jem was born, and I had felt her tyrannical presence as long as I could remember.

and this...

Miss Caroline was no more than twenty-one. She had bright auburn hair, pink cheeks, and wore crimson fingernail polish. She also wore high-heeled pumps and a red-and-white striped dress. She looked and smelled like a peppermint drop. She boarded across the street one door down from us in Miss Maudie Atkinson’s upstairs front room, and when Miss Maudie introduced us to her, Jem was in a haze for days.

and this...

Walter Cunningham’s face told everyone in the first grade he had hookworms. His absence of shoes told everyone how he got them. People caught hookworms by going barefooted in barnyards and hog wallows. If Walter had owned any shoes, he would have worn them the first day of school and then discarded them until mid-winter. HE did have on a clean shirt and neatly mended overalls.

Now go and write this well!


Larramie said...

And, if you do, you might be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Hannah chose one of the other books, Lynne provided the packaging, and I chose To Kill a Mockingbird because the writing, the voice, and descriptions reminded me so much of your own writing, Lisa. So, so much.


Melissa Amateis said...

I love To Kill a Mockingbird. She was such a brilliant writer - I still wonder why she only wrote the one book.

Great examples of character descriptions!

Lisa Marnell said...

Thank you, Amy. That is so very complimentary. I love the writing so much it hurts to read it. Really.

Melissa, I was wondering that very thing today. Then, oddly, I saw an old woman crossing the street, just barely. I thought to myself how life's circumstances affect our writing. I would love to know if she started other books etc.

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