Joli's Journal

Joli's Journal


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4 entries this month

19:00 Jun 27 2011
Times Read: 783

Guess I'm missing my teaching days a little today. How about a "Fun With Writing" exercise?

I was thinking it might be fun to do a Character Sketch exercise. A sketch differs from a story the way a scene within a movie differs from the full movie. A sketch has your character doing something, but does not tell a whole story. What it DOES do, is show us who your character is at a given point in his life. (Many characters change in the course of a story, just as we change throughout life.)

We'll begin with the Character Profile. This is a ladder that helps us to build vivid and believable characters for our writing.

1. I am going to give you lists from various fields, and you must select at least one aspect from each list.

2. While it's generally better to add lots of detail to "flesh out" your character in the profile, avoid the temptation to stick them all in your sketch (or even your story, novel, or poem) so that it ends up reading like a list. The profile is the author's tool, your tool. As you develop your character in your writing, pepper the work with details from your profile. ALL character traits influence how a character relates to himself, others, and the environment within his world.

Ready to create a character? Let's get started!

Character Profile

Demographics of your character. Where does he come from? How do these elements contribute to who he is? Remember, you don't have to fill them all out, though it's not a bad exercise to at least consider them all mentally. Sometimes, you may not know yet and the character reveals these things to you as you write and they develop before you.




Socioeconomic Level as a child:

Socioeconomic Level as an adult:


Current Residence:





Birth order:

Siblings (describe relationship):

Spouse (describe relationship):

Children (describe relationship):

Grandparents (describe relationship):

Grandchildren (describe relationship):

Significant Others (describe relationship):

Relationship skills:

Physical Characteristics:




Eye Color:

Hair Color:

Glasses or contact lenses?

Skin color:

Shape of Face:

Distinguishing features:

How does he/she dress?


Habits: (smoking, drinking etc.)



Favorite Sayings:

Speech patterns:


Style (Elegant, shabby etc.):

Greatest flaw:

Best quality:

Intellectual/Mental/Personality Attributes and Attitudes

Educational Background:

Intelligence Level:

Any Mental Illnesses?

Learning Experiences:

Character's short-term goals in life:

Character's long-term goals in life:

How does Character see himself/herself?

How does Character believe he/she is perceived by others?

How self-confident is the character?

Does the character seem ruled by emotion or logic or some combination thereof?

What would most embarass this character?

Emotional Characteristics


Introvert or Extrovert?

How does the character deal with anger?

With sadness?

With conflict?

With change?

With loss?

What does the character want out of life?

What would the character like to change in his/her life?

What motivates this character?

What frightens this character?

What makes this character happy?

Is the character judgmental of others?

Is the character generous or stingy?

Is the character generally polite or rude?

Spiritual Characteristics

Does the character believe in God?

What are the character's spiritual beliefs?

Is religion or spirituality a part of this character's life?

What role does his faith or lack of faith play in the story?

You've done it! Now, let's build a sketch

Character Sketch

1. Set the Scene:

Imagine a scene in which your character might find himself. Perhaps it's a scene you have found yourself in, or one you simply imagine. Add some sensory details so that your reader can also feel what the character feels. (Words that give us in addition to what is seen - smell, touch, taste, or hearing. Sensory words.)

2. Define Character Role

Consider how the character is involved in the story

Is he the:

main character?


Romantic interest?

How will he relate with other characters? (Sometimes te jerks are the most fun to write. I often write out the profiles and sketches on my "bad guys" first so I know what my hero is up against.etc.

3. Give Him Words

Even if they are in his own head, we need this character to have things going on inside that we understand. How do you do this?

A. He can speak/think. (His words will be from his own perspective. He'll say "I" and "You" as he interacts.)

B. A narrator can tell us. (A third person describes what he is feeling and doing.)

4. WRITE! Maybe your character wants to get a soda from a vending machine and has a conflict, no money, the product hangs up... Maybe your character just had his heart broken over a call and still has the phone in his hand...Maybe he needs to confront someone. Whatever it is, write it. Give your scene a beginning and an end.

5. Ask Questions - if have any.

6. Share - your scene with us if you can!



19:35 Jun 27 2011

Remind me to come back to this one when I have a spare few hours to kill...

22:59 Jun 27 2011

I am so going to write for you when I get home. ♥

00:30 Jun 28 2011

I can't wait!


Vagabond Girl

20:37 Jun 22 2011
Times Read: 805

My vagabond girl

Tugs the brim of her stetson cap

And hikes through traffic,

Cradling her precious lens

With hand and chest

While stalking the perfect shot.

I watch as she folds herself,

Suddenly as beautiful as her own art,

An origami swan bent to the earth

In quiet reverence,

A still dance

Of light and shadow,

Give and take.

Beyond my own focus

She has grown so lovely -

A poem of herbs and spice,

Poise and grace,

Frayed jeans,

Jeweled sneakers,

And miles to hike

Before the sun can set.



20:45 Jun 22 2011

You've captured a delight.

20:56 Jun 22 2011

Very nice, I can see her in my mind. :)

20:56 Jun 22 2011

This is lovely.

If Peter Lik wrote the poem though, it would have ended with, "And the Sun is going to set soon, so she has to get her picture.... FAST!"



19:01 Jun 22 2011
Times Read: 810



18:41 Jun 11 2011
Times Read: 852

A fella on VR asked me if I would mark him as a friend. We all get those requests, but this one was different and touched me because it was so humble and sweet. He reads my journal and wanted to be able to see the private poetry that I posted just for friends.

Of course I explained that the journal is the same for everyone. Private entries aren't seen even by friends. He thanked me, didn't press the point, and I haven't heard from him again, except to see that he visited the journal.

I thought it might be fun to show you what a private entry looks like in the Exhalations section. They're just prompts for me...ideas, words, thoughts, sounds...that I might like to use in a poem. Many never become anything. But they are a part of the writing process. Well, my writing process. Remember, the prompts are raw and unrefined, straight out of the brainpan.

So, here's one entry about a girl I never ended up writing about:

Awanata = turtle

Awanata runs her fingers across the fabric of all that is. They are long fingers, well-shaped and strong from many hours of close coil stitches that mark the handsome baskets of her people. Her fingers tingle as she feels for the right strands, plucking at the air with all the concentration of a weaver woman busy at looms that she has never seen in her fourteen years

Her name means Turtle and it suits her. She is an unhurried girl and though she could not so much be called sullen, she holds herself in a serious manner that feels much older than her years.

She does not like all quiets...those still and dead like Cathedral on Monday evening.

Fire alive...wraps around like a cloak

Quiet sound that fire makes



18:50 Jun 11 2011

Your prompts, ideas that you call them are what some of us (well me) would aspire to write after much thought.

Just look at what you have just posted. Even the damn name sounds like a song.

How do you weave such elaboration, with delicacy and perfection .. and get this, you obviously improve on that?!

Miss out the middle-man and don't go private.

19:06 Jun 11 2011

You really have a way with words Joli.It is no wonder everyone loves to read your journal.Myself included.

19:14 Jun 11 2011

Bloodlife said it all. What you call prompts are what we call great writing.

Thanks for sharing this :)

20:06 Jun 11 2011

Your way with words is what pulls me to your journal every time I see a new entry. No matter what you write about, you always have such beautiful words and they are both uplifting and encouraging. There are times when you write something, I can fully picture it or even smell, see, or hear what you are writing. Only a few people on VR can do that, with such ease, and that makes me enjoy reading your journal all the more.

I favorited your journal the first time I read it. I remember the first entry I came across in your journal, the words caught me the were:

"My speckled love

Wears her gypsy jupe

In a shade of irony...

And it has had me hooked to your journal ever since. I often come back to your journal (and a few others) when I need some kind of comfort or uplifting. :)

23:04 Jun 11 2011

Wow...thank you all. I'm surprised that you liked seeing the prompt. I used to worry about showing the ugly, early stages of writing, but now I kind of like seeing the pure thoughts as they hit my head and I worry less about letting others see that I haven't swept up yet. :)

I'll post more...maybe even show the prompt and then the finished piece.

Your words lift me up and make me want to write. Thank you so much.

18:43 Dec 03 2011

A delayed reply, I admit; your poems both new and old continue to bring me back. Not so much new as there is old, sadly, but they're just as great a read as ever and yet I still remain amazed no matter how many times they are read.

I still curse those private entries though ;~;

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