Entry: Exercise 44 - Character Sketch 26.11.08

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.”


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