Tweet of the Day: Telling Your Characters Apart
This has been an interesting week in this here blog. Battles fought, stories told, challenges met:
- Sun- We opened the week with a Sunday Tweet about Sci-Fi as a genre and why it remains the “big tent” of modern literature.
- Mon- Hatedom, brought to you by the letters T and V. The Trope that covers all the things you love to hate.
- Tues- Everybody’s favorite UF character: The Hunter with more flavors than Baskin Robbins.
- Wend- Our fugitives Wizards go on a Road Trip. But a state trooper gets a tad to close for comfort.
- Thur- My answer to the April’s Writer’s Challenge- Too Late, for her at least (ties in with WWW for those following at home.)
- Fri- Sir Jonah must show Patience in facing enemy hordes who want to destroy all the he believes in.
And now for my own writer’s challenge: Interview with a Character. You can do it as the author interviewing a character or a short story/flash fiction piece.The Rules as follows:
- One-thousand words or less.
- Interview one character per post
- Write a small paragraph (50 words or less) describing the story setting
- Answer the Following Questions:
Nicknames, if any.
What do you look like? Eye color, hair color, ethnicity, distinguishing marks or features, clothing, jewelry, and gear…
What are your hobbies?
Who and where is your family?Where are you from?
Do you have any secrets, and what are they? Why do you keep them?
What do you believe in ? Explain.
Post by May 7th.
That is all.
[…] May’s Writers Challenge: An Interview with A Character. […]
Stephen “The Ringer” Zielanowski has politely requested that he be interviewed at his home in Lenape Township, New Jersey, where he and his son Jacob, age 30 months, are spending the afternoon while his wife and daughter attend a Girls Only Mani-Pedi birthday party. In the back of a neatly maintained expanded cape, the patio is graffiti’d with colored chalk, and the lawn has given way to a motley landscape of swings, toy vehicles, a sandbox shaped like a crab and a structure that might be a doghouse or a clubhouse: I’m not sure. I lean over the gate to announce my presence, assuming that it is my host who is sprawled on the ground with his head in the door of said structure, barking like a friendly cartoon dog.
A handsome man in his mid-forties leaps up to greet me. When he leans forward to brush the grass from his pants, I see that his otherwise thick, blondish-brown hair is interrupted, at the crown, with a little bald spot. His eyes are a bright silvery blue, and his fair complexion reflects his Eastern European ancestry. His smile is charming, but not flirtatious, and he moves like a natural athlete , with the energetic grace of a person consistently at ease with the space he inhabits. A child the size of an average five-year-old charges out of the dog/clubhouse, barking, giggling, and clutching his father’s very, very long legs. Stephen may be the tallest man I have ever met.
“Hi, I’m Steve, and this young pup is my son Jacob.” Jacob feigns an adorable bashfulness, peeking out from behind his father’s knees.
“His cousin Heather told him she likes shy guys,” Steve explains, “ and I think he’s trying out that rap to see where it goes.”
“Heddow’s coming?” asks Jacob hopefully.
“Not today, Hoss. Soon.” The kid gallops off, distracted by some unexplained train of thought.
Steve offers me a lawn chair, managing to maintain eye contact and make sure I’m comfortably seated, while never losing track of his son’s whereabouts. “I hope you don’t mind if I sit on the grass; I’ve never been able to find patio chairs big enough.”
Understandable. Any day now Jake’s gonna outgrow these, as well. Is your daughter very tall, also?
“I think a little taller than average for her age. Sarah could go either way – her mom is 5’5” (at the mention of his wife and daughter, he smiles a tiny, proud smile,) “but Heather’s almost 6 foot, and they’ve got an aunt who’s 6’1 : My sister and all but one of my brothers are over 6 foot tall.”
Growing up, were all you big kids a handful for your mom?
“Nah, my mother’s five and a half feet of solid dynamite. Nothing fazes her except loud music.”
“Yah; she doesn’t distinguish among rock and roll, jazz, or Wagner. She calls it all ‘crazy music’ and refuses to feed you until you turn it off. Then she refuses to stop feeding you. I could take you over there now, and within 15 minutes she’d have a whole pot roast, mashed potatoes, a plate of pierogies, and three different kinds of bread on the table, and that’s just for the adults. She just pulls it out of her side, like Bugs Bunny. She’d be plying the kid with four different kinds of cookies. If I try to complain, she says ‘I notice nothing you ate in this house stunted your growth.’ Grandma Dynamite won’t entertain any criticisms of her parenting technique, which is cool, really. It’s like with athletes: if you commit 100% to what you’re doing and the way you do it, it’ll usually work out.”
Jacob drags over a tattered, lumpy briefcase. “That’s Jake’s attaché case. It’s where he keeps all his important stuff,” Steve explains, as his son roots through the bag’s contents: tattered stuffed toys, a plastic dump truck, crayons, a small colander – which his places on head, chortling “Unca Jimmy!” His father clarifies: “My brother Jim put that on his head one day, and he doesn’t know it has any other use” – the remote control from a TV set – “Hey! Where’d you get that?! I was gonna buy a new one!” – and finally, a slightly rumpled photo of a pretty young woman with big green eyes.
“Love Heddow,” states Jake.
“Who wouldn’t?” asks his dad. “Who else do you love?
“Mommy!” clearly number one with a bullet. “Gaaaamma. Aunt Nonee”
‘Aunt Nonee’s’ your sister?
Steve nods. “ ‘Nonee’s’ short for Nora. Or at least it’s easier for him to say. “
He’s actually very easy to understand, once you get used to the cadence of his speech.
“All the Zielanowskis are like that, really.”
Jake continues to catalog the objects of his affection: “Sarah love her don’t boss me”
“Aw, Jake, Sarah means well. Just remember what Aunt Nonee says: a girl has to stand firm when she’s got big smart brothers like you and me and Jimmy and Leo and Stasz.”
“Unca Stoshie!” Jacob shrieks delightedly, pulling another toy car out of the apparently bottomless briefcase. He approximates the “zoooom” sound of an engine accelerating, and sends the car careening into one of the stuffed animals, knocking it over.
“I swear Stasz has never run anyone over,” Steve laughs, responding to my look of
alarm. “Here’s a secret, though: he kinda likes people to think that he would.”
Are all of you still close?
“Oh yah. We’re pretty good about keeping in touch. Other than Dana and Sarah and Jake, I can’t think of anybody I’d rather talk to.”
I guess with two young kids and a job and a home, chatting up your family is your favorite hobby these days?
“The one I can best make time for. I played a little ball when I was younger, but nowadays I mostly get my exercise chasing after Jakie. ”
Just a little ball? I heard that at Lenape Regional you were All-State in baseball and basketball, and set a few state records that have not yet been broken.
“That was a long time ago,” he says modestly.
So tell me why they call you “The Ringer.” A jock thing?
“Sort of. Long after I was done with college ball – ”
Boston College? Full scholarship?
“Wow, you did your research. Yah, I do like to play the occasional friendly game, but the trouble is, my friends’ll drag me along without bothering to tell the other team who I am or where I’m from. I’m old, I’m outta shape, but you know I can’t just grow shorter to make the game fair for these weekend warriors, and sometimes the other guys will start yelling stuff like “who is this guy? You brought a ringer!”
I can’t tell if you like that or not.
“I like playing ball. I like surprising people.” ( He scoops up a spongy pink ball and tosses it gently to Jacob, calling “heads up! a line drive to center field!”) “ — I don’t like the assumption that somehow I do that stuff to annoy or intimidate people. They’re games, and they’re fun, and, for a lucky few of us, they were a way to pay for college, but that’s different than having a life’s work, you know?”
So, what do you believe is your life’s work?
He nods towards the boy in the sandbox, who is busy burying his briefcase and muttering “yar!” like a little pirate. “There’s one of ‘em. And I think the other has just returned , with a spectacular new manicure. Excuse me a minute, please-“
He unfurls his long limbs, yelling “Hey Gorgeous!” at the driver and passenger of a station wagon that is pulling into the driveway. His wife and daughter look up at the same time, flashing their lacquered fingertips and smiling the same wide smile.
That’s a first! A whole short/interview in a message. Can I reprint it? With your permission of course.
Sure – the back story is so mushy at this point, I can’t imagine anybody wanting to steal it. I love this exercise, BTW, as also love Buster the steam-punk dog.
I’ll re-post it on Thursday for all too see.