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I decided to organize a weekly creative writing exercise in the office to sharpen the skills of the writing pool. Everyone takes a turn inventing an exercise or a prompt.

The only general rule we've been using is that it should be doable in an hour or so. We've also tried to keep things fun.

Please feel free to share your own exercise efforts by leaving a comment. You can do that at the end of each exercise by clicking on 'Share your own effort'. Enjoy!

Writing Exercises Quick Links
Write an Obama Speech
Wordlplay, Anagram as Inspiration
Strictly Dialogue
Character Sketch
An Article of Clothing
The Truth
Press Release
Creative Description
Paired Fiction Writing
Connecting Ideas
Writing in Persona
Point of View
Interior Monologue
Body Language
Alternate Ending
Book Cover
Horror Writing
Dialogue 3
Dialogue 2
Nanofiction Writing
Writing Without Adjectives
Love Letters
Fictional Monologue
TV Show Opening Monologue
Short Story, Object as Narrator
Speech Writing
Tongue Twister
Suspense and Emotion
Describe and Compose
Poetic Confession
Application letter
Essays of Absurdities
Dialogue with Self
Imaginative Writing
Short Story from Cartoon
Five Random Words
Letter of Complaint

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Exercise 44 - Character Sketch

Imagine a life cut short into 750-1500 words. This is a writing technique called the personality sketch, which is commonly used for feature writing in paperbacks but has gained popularity in more mainstream media such as newspapers, magazines, periodicals, etc. Here’s an example of a special section published in the New York Times featuring the lives of people who died during the September 11 terrorist attack.



Glenn Kirwin was fit.  Triathlon fit.


Over the years, he competed in a number of triathlons, and though he stopped the endurance events after the children arrived, he kept himself in enviable shape.  “He was a fitness freak,” said his wife, Joan.  “He did 50-mile bicycle rides.”  When they were dating, she tried to keep up but it was hopeless.  “I once did 30 miles with him,” she said, “but I couldn’t sit for a week.”  


Mr. Kirwin, 40, lived in Scarsdale, N.Y., and was up at 5:15 in the morning to catch the 6:30 train to New York, where he was the head of product development at the eSpeed division of Cantor Fitzgerald.


It was usually 8 at night when he arrived home.  It was his practice, though, to always do something with the children, Miles, 10, and Troy, 7, before they went to bed.  He would read them a story or play checkers or engage in a game of Go Fish.  Sometimes they would go outside and play catch or shoot baskets…



Choose a person that you know (or create one using your imagination) and write a glimpse of his or her life, personality, idiosyncrasies, etc. Personality sketches usually use anecdotes, direct quotations, physical description, etc., but for the purpose of this writing activity, we can be more “creative” or “imaginative.”  Write as you please, and introduce us to that person in no less than 200 words. :P

Below is what I was able to put together.


Jess James is a great rock singer.  Probably the best in the band scene right now.  “Deep and soulful” was how his manager, Eddie Velasquez, described his voice.  I discovered him playing Stone Temple Pilot covers in this small club called Smithereens in uptown Cebu.  Becoming an instant believer, Eddie has since orchestrated and managed Jess’ successful career spanning eleven years, six albums, numerous singles and countless club appearances all over the country.


Known as Jessboy to his close friends, he is currently the lead singer for Ang Miserables, one of the most respected acts in Cebu’s band scene today. 


Unlike most band vocalists, Jess James started out singing ballads in school programs.  Hard to imagine now, but he actually sang pop songs popularized by Martin Nievera when he was still in elementary and high school.


The shift to rock music came naturally to him.  Although he had that voice, he clearly wasn’t a balladeer.  Underneath was too much attitude and edge.  Jess James eschewed wearing anything with a collar and much preferred jeans, sneakers and tight shirts. 


A songwriter also, Jess James writes pastiches of pained emotions and struggles that reflected his troubled past.  But his music is not all dark and emotional.  His pop sensibilities show in lyrics that paint love and celebration.  Jive magazine writer Anne Hillcox sums it up aptly: “He is an amazing and playful lyricist.  What set him apart though is how he connects with his audience.”

Posted at 04:34 pm by bisoy


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