The People Surrounding You

The People Surrounding You

Rory C. Keel

For a writing exercise, take a few moments and make a list of your closest friends, relatives, your boss, and co-workers.

Choose the person you like the most and the least; the person who has had the most positive and most negative influence on you; the person who has changed the most and the least since you’ve known them; and then write a write a brief paragraph on each of them explaining why you feel this way.

Notice any quirks they may exhibit such as, do they constantly jerk their head back to flip their hair out of their eyes, or do they run their hand throughout their hair?

Do they chew their food quietly, or smack their lips loudly?

These are the kind of details that add life to your story characters.

Characters & The Five Senses

Characters & The Five Senses

Natalie Bright


The main character Hassan in the movie The Hundred Foot Journey, is a culinary genius whose talent propels him to a world-renowned chef.  The title refers to the distance between Hassan’s family who relocates to France because of a tragedy and opens an Indian restaurant across the road from a traditional French restaurant. I have watched this many times, and I always tear up at the same scene.

The Power of Taste and Smell

One of my favorite scenes is the perfect example of how the power of taste and smell can be used to create powerful emotion.

While sitting in his darkened, closed restaurant overlooking the Paris skyline, Hassan hears a young co-worker on break. He raises his head, pauses, and then slowly rises from the floor. The young man is eating. “Do you want some?” he asks.

As Hassan dips pieces of fried bread into the dish, the young man explains that his wife cooks the traditional Indian way on an open fire in the courtyard of their apartment using spices from their homeland. Tears well up in Hassan’s eyes and you can see the emotion and internal conflict on his face. His mother, who had died in a fire, was the one who had taught him the use of spices. The family’s relocation from India to France had been a struggle of cultural differences. All of this is visible as Hassan buries his face in his hands and sobs. You understand the conflict that is going through his mind. There is no dialogue. He doesn’t voice his pain, but you know. It is a very powerful scene triggered by smell and taste.


Characters should experience several of the five senses in every scene. This pulls your reader into the emotion and setting and reveals the conflict that the character is experiencing. During the editing process, I find it’s easier to deliberately focus on enhancing the five sense during one pass. As I read every scene, I think about the reality for that character. What more can be revealed? For example, the smells of food, the sounds of nature, the feel of satin fabric, etc. Dig deep into the slightest, most minute detail of what that character is experiencing. Maybe it’s good as written, but maybe it can be better.

Here’s Your Homework

Think of your favorite movie and watch a scene that triggers emotion based on any of the five senses. If you have a particular scene in mind, be very specific with your search terms to find it on YouTube.

Watch the scene several times. Now, turn off the video and write that same scene. Be descriptive about the senses that trigger the emotion. Fill your pages with emotion and rewriter the scene.



Lynnette Jalufka


I was flipping TV channels one day when I came across the beginning of a movie. A small boy was ordered to fix breakfast by his aunt and uncle while his selfish cousin bullied him. I immediately cared for this orphaned kid with the big round glasses. I wanted to know what happened to him. He ended up at a strange school, with a mystery to solve and a villain determined to kill him. By the end of the movie, I was applauding him.

Apparently, other people liked him, too. I watched more movies about him, and when I ran out of movies, I read the last two books of the series. I wanted to see how he prevailed against this villain. I eventually bought all the books and all the movies. I even went to a midnight premiere showing of the last film. All because I cared about this character.

Such is the power of a sympathetic hero. So, have you guessed who he is? He’s the famous Harry Potter. And the movie that started it all? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Your protagonist must have something your readers can relate to, sympathize with, care about. Without it, why would they finish your story? They need someone to cheer for to the end. Who knows what can happen after that?

The People


The People

By Nandy Ekle

So, who are the people we write about? We have to have a main character, usually this is our hero. And we have to have a villain, the one who thwarts our hero (or vice-versa) in everything he/she wants. Most stories need secondary characters on both sides, because in real life no one is alone all the time. 

So we’ve defined their roles. But who are they? This is where your love of people watching comes into play.

This past summer I went to a city I had never been before, and I was able to sit at a table and just watch. This place is a place known for all kinds of people and situations. And it was an absolute feast to watch. I saw hundreds of tourists walking up and down the street. I saw performers on street stages, on street corners, and on every square of sidewalk there was. I saw people with hunger in their eyes, wanting the big win; people with desperation in their faces, realizing they were trapped in a life they didn’t like; and people like me, just taking it all in. 

And I know each and every person I saw, whether in sparkly lacy feathery fine-ness with tails and bow-ties, all the way down to the group of people dressed in dirty rags as they vomited into the trash cans; they all had a story. They all had a reason for being there. And they all had a purpose they were looking for. 

And next week we’ll discuss some of these purposes.

My Style of Characterization

My Style of Characterization

by Adam Huddleston

Throughout this month, our writing group will be blogging about our styles and feelings concerning the topic of characterization.  I’m sure that there will be many contrasts and comparisons between direct and indirect characterization in writing.  While I have little more to add than my more experienced peers, I would like to express my favorite style of character description.

I readily admit that I am weak when it comes to direct characterization.  I need to work harder on describing what my characters actually look and sound like.  While I do believe that we should leave some of that up to the reader’s imagination, I do need to strengthen those skills.  I do prefer to show a character acting or reacting a specific way.  By doing this, the reader hopefully gains a better understanding on what the character is like.

For example, in the beginning of my work “Mattie”, the main character is an orphan sent to live with her only remaining relative,  a great aunt.  During the car ride to the aunt’s house, I attempt to portray a slight air of wealth and haughtiness to the older woman by describing how she carries herself and her dialogue with the orphan girl.  It’s not perfect, but I feel that it flows fairly smoothly.

In Search of a Character

Welcome to the year 2019!

In our journey since our start through 2018, the authors of Wordsmith Six have seen setbacks and success. However, we are determined to continue moving forward in reaching for our goals in writing. We hope you will continue to follow along as we focus our 2019 blogs on specific areas of the writing craft.

In January, we will focus on Characterization.

In Search of a Character

When starting a story, we need characters like a Protagonist, the main character and anAntagonistthe villain. There may even be secondary characters that play a role in your writing.

So where do characters come from? Where do we get them?

The easiest way for me to find a character is to think about people I know in real life.

This idea could include friends, family, or someone you just met.

If you have a good imagination, then creating characters by mixing fantasy and reality.

Are you coming up with blanks? Then a trip to the shopping mall with notepad in hand can offer some relief as you observe people as they shop. Another quick starter that might help is to do an internet search for movie star images.

How many different characters can you create this week?