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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”