Thursday, October 11, 2018

Character Sketches

It's been a whirlwind of a week.

On the writing front, most of my time has been dedicated to character sketches as I work up a synopsis for my agent and as I think through the arc of a would-be series. It's productive organizational work, albeit a task that leaves me unfulfilled. (I'd rather be telling a story than planning how I will tell it.)

However, I find writing detailed character sketches helpful, more so in fact than outlining. Diving headlong into who each character is and what makes him or her tick tells me a lot about motivation, which I need to know as I write, and which I need to be able to see where plotlines intersect.

Here's an example of one:

Bo Whitney, 45, is our vantage point –– an outsider in the ultimate insider’s world. A dedicated family man who deeply loves wife Ellie. Now that she’s the recently-appointed head of school, he’s moved from a small-ish dorm apartment he liked to the headmaster’s mansion, which, given his lower-middle-class background, frankly, embarrasses him. And the symbolism of this new home isn’t lost on any of us: He’s cursing under his breath that he can’t find the beer in the commercial kitchen and hosted the Board of Trustees Saturday night instead of the faculty poker game. Reminds us that "in the academic world, most meetings are about as enjoyable as pulling your thumbnail off with pliers. Few are as interesting."

From a Maine mill town, a former star high school hockey player and fourth-round draft choice of the Calgary Flames. Did not attend an Ivy League college. Played at the University of Maine. Now his occasional limp reminds us of the knee injury that took him from the ice to the newsroom. Found his adrenaline rush on the crime beat at the Hartford Courant. Teaching (and if he was honest, he’d tell you that even coaching) doesn’t give him what the newspaper did. But his life is at Blaise Academy, and we believe he’s content. Knows wife Ellie is the power player in their academic world, and he’s fine taking a backseat. After all, as he says they don’t ask the guy who’s usually late to a faculty meeting to hold administrative roles.

I'd love to hear others' thoughts on character sketches.


At work, we are on the cusp of midterms, and I hiked a mountain with the senior class yesterday. So, as Polonius said, "I will be brief." Here are some pictures from a crazy week.

Dad and daughter (Audrey, 17, a senior) on Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire

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