Week Five Writing Assignment

You have three assignments for this week.

Assignment One:

As you read the pages for the next week, keep a list of how he describes Gootie. Fold the sheet of paper in your book.

I’d like for you to categorize the characteristics, group them together based on the type. The number and names of the various categories do not matter. Make them useful to you. Some possible categories might be: physical/appearance, actions/gestures, religion/spirituality, profession/interests, speech, disposition, background info, life goals/values/beliefs, etc.

Also, don’t make this process too complicated. On your list, put the name or abbreviation of a category next to each characteristic. Some descriptions may fit into more than one category. That’s fine. Either put it in two categories or determine where it fits best. It’s up to you. The goal of this ongoing exercise is to make you aware of how authors characterize people throughout an extended work.


Assignment Two:

Last week your focused on emotions. You wrote a scene to try and capture an emotion through the behavior of your main characters. You used active verbs and specific details to show, rather than tell, the emotion you are trying to describe.

Now, you are going to pay attention to any minor characters Apple describes in this last section of the book. Think about how he chooses to describe them and their purpose in the story. Why do you think he chose to include them?


Assignment Three:

Write a scene/snippet/story that includes a minor character and features him/her in some way.

Follow these steps:

1. Make a list of this person’s characteristics and details about him/her.

2. Choose two or three details you can use to describe this person.

3. Figure out what purpose this person serves in your story.

Please share your scene/snippet/story on the assignments tab and tell us why you included him/her and what purpose that character served.

Be sure to read your fellow class members assignments and comment. Let them know they’ve been heard.

Happy writing!

12 Responses to Week Five Writing Assignment

  1. Cheryl Floyd
    Cheryl Floyd January 24, 2018 at 3:41 pm #

    I am including this snippet with Lorraine as part of my love story with Rod. This takes place right after the proposal story on Christmas Eve, 1978. Her relationship to Rod takes on a bigger role of course, this shows  a little of her personality, love of family and position in the family.

    My future mother-in-law, Lorraine captured a special place in my heart the first time I arrived in her home, in Longville, La with her son, Rodney. His family called him, Rodney; with everyone else he introduced himself as Rod. She hated her given name, Dorrine, and begged her husband, Johny, spelled with one n, to rename her when they married. He called her Lorraine, but to us, she was always Mom. I met her and the rest of the family with Elaine while attending college, several years before I met Rod; but this was my first time visit with him as his secret fiancée.

    My arrival surprised his family. They had no idea we were even dating again, and of course unaware of his wee-hour Christmas Eve proposal. When Lorraine saw me walk into the kitchen with Rod her big smile turned into a surprised expression, she turned around and ran out of the room. My first thought, oh, no, my mama laughed uncontrollably when we made the engagement announcement to her and now my future mother-n-law, runs out of the room when she sees me. This is not a good start to our life together.

    Rod’s dad led us through the narrow kitchen laden with food and delicious enticing aromas; and we followed the sounds of his brother, Gary and sister, Elaine laughing in the living room. As we came around the corner, the Christmas tree dwarfed the small room filled to capacity with furniture, knickknacks and family. Rod and I tiptoed over gifts, grown up sprawled out legs, toddlers and made our way to a day bed set up for comfortable seating with lots of handmade pillows arranged by Lorraine who loved sewing and crafts. Gary’s wife, Kay, giggled a heavy Japanese accented welcome as she perched on the edge of her chair with her hand resting on a protruding swollen eight-month pregnant belly. Her dark brown-eyed little girls Janet, four and two-year-old Kim stood next to their mom squealing, jumping up and down with excitement over the abundance of unopened presents.

    Lorraine hurried into the room with a wrapped gift in her hand and a big smile on her fresh dark red lipstick and blushing apple cheeks.  She pretended to sneak a gift under the tree. Johny, picked up and strummed his guitar and led the singing of the Twelve Days of Christmas, his favorite. Lorraine beamed up at him, held her two giggling grand girls and kept looking over at me smiling, glowing with happiness and content over everyone together for the holiday.

    “Let’s open presents and then eat dinner!” Lorraine called out and she asked Johny to distribute the gifts. Even though she probably bought, made and wrapped most of them in addition to making certain everything was done, she deferred to her husband to take the gift distribution role and he employed Elaine to assist. After the children ripped into their gifts and we all enjoyed their pure, innocent joy; Lorraine picked up two matching gifts and gave one to Kay and one to me.

    “What? I didn’t expect a gift; you didn’t even know I was coming?” I called out in joy. That’s when I recognized the package and the reason she ran out of the room after my unannounced arrival with her oldest son. Kay and I unwrapped matching make-up mirrors. Lorraine, sweet thoughtful mom,  must have bought an extra for herself, but when I arrived, she wrapped it up for me, so I wouldn’t feel left out during the exchange.

    Rod took that moment to announce, “Guess who is getting married?” Elaine leaned over to me and whispered, “Finally, I knew you were meant to be in our family.”

    Lorraine with tears in her eyes, jumped up, stepped over the gift-wrapped-littered floor and embraced me, welcoming me into the family.

    • Amanda Benson
      Amanda Benson January 25, 2018 at 2:56 am #

      What a sweet story! Lorraine sound slike an amazing woman – kind-hearted, joyful, loving, and devoted to her family. You paint a wonderufl picture of that hoiday moment in time: the bustling activity in the house, the food, the kids, gifts, the excitement of your “secret”– and in the midst of it all, a woman who noticed you and wanted to welcome you well. Nice work!

    • Diane Gosheff
      Diane Gosheff January 25, 2018 at 3:33 am #

      Through your description and dialogue, I can see the colorful room packed with people and gifts. The excitement and joy of being together comes through loud and clear as you bring me into the family. I am glad you have such wonderful memories about Rod, his family, and the warm welcome they gave you. As Jackie Gleason said, “How sweet it is”. I loved it, Cheryl.

  2. Amanda Benson
    Amanda Benson January 25, 2018 at 2:12 am #

    Minor Character Scene Study:


    Who: Carrie (age 7), a friend and neighbor




    Tough / a fighter

    Smart mouth / sassy

    Sarcastic / sharp wit

    Small size for her age

    Born prematurely

    Birth defect – right arm is deformed; only a little “finger” she calls Charlie



    Severe asthma

    Tenacious – does not let her physical disabilities limit her – e.g., uses her right foot as extra hand

    Protective mom


    Function / Purpose / Why she is in this scene:

    My friendship with Carrie taught me compassion and empathy for people with disabilities, those who are suffering and those who are different from me. This relationship taught me that, physical traits aside, people are really a lot alike. It also planted a seed of protectiveness and justice for the weak and innocent.


    Scene sketch:

    Typical summer day in Georgia playing outside together.



    Muddy Buddy

    By Amanda Benson



    She wasn’t allowed to cross the street. Her mom was so over-protective. So she walked out to the farthest stretch of her yard, kitty corner to mine, and stood at the curb.


    “Amanda!” she hollered at the top of her lungs, over and over. She wouldn’t stop until I waved out of my front door.


    “Bye, Mom! Going to Carrie’s!” I yelled behind me as I bolted down the four concrete steps. At the end of the driveway, I paused to look for cars before crossing Shoreham Drive.


    She kicked around rocks, barefoot, waiting for me in the shade of a huge old oak tree, which towered over her dad’s beat up Grenata. Her long blond hair was pulled back in a messy pony tail, and probably hadn’t been brushed yet. She smiled at me. A faint red Kool-Aid mustache lingered over her top lip.


    “Wanna play T.V. tag?” she began.


    “Nah. It’s way too hot to run,” I replied, and wiped sweat from my forehead.


    “Wanna make a music video?”


    “Well…what song?”


    “I dunno. What about ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’?” she offered.


    “Meh,” I grunted. “How about we make some mud bombs and launch them at the Reynolds place?”


    “Oooh, yeah!” she squealed.


    We raided her outdoor utility room and found an empty plastic butter container. We placed it under her window air conditioning unit to collect the drip-drip-drips. We were forbidden to use the hose or water faucet, due to previous mud-mischief. It was the best we could do.


    There was a patch of dirt that had accumulated at the base of her driveway, just outside of her carport. Even though it was still early morning, it was already sticky and hot outside. We sat in the dirt, forming small piles in anticipation of the water. I sat cross legged next to her. My legs were longer and thicker than hers. I was two years older than her, but still, she was small even next to other seven-year-old girls. Her “Bird Legs” nickname was very fitting. As we chittered about the annoying kids who lived across the street, I noticed her wheezing when she laughed at a joke.


    “Asthma?” I asked.


    “Yeah. Had to use that stupid nebulizer a bunch of times last night. My mom is all scared I might get pneumonia again.” She rolled her eyes, as if that were the most ridiculous thing.


    I remembered the last time she got pneumonia. She was in the hospital for two weeks. She brought home two giant brown matching teddy bears, one of which she gave to me. I named it Animal and have slept with it every nice since.


    She hopped up and peeked into the plastic bowl. “Yes!” She brought it over and showed me the half-full bowl of murky water. Our eyes locked; we nodded and smiled.


    Sitting next to me, she began pouring small amounts of water into one of her dirt piles. Carrie’s right foot and left hand began mixing the ingredients into mud. I watched how she worked. It was like she didn’t miss her right arm at all. Nothing stopped her from doing what all the rest of us did. She just sometimes did it a little bit different.



    • Cheryl Floyd
      Cheryl Floyd January 25, 2018 at 3:39 am #

      Aw, Amanda, that description of Carrie made me love her and you for being such a cool older friend. You captured her essence, brevado and determination in this piece. It’s amazing to see you develop your personal writing style with honesty and clarity of purpose.

    • Diane Gosheff
      Diane Gosheff January 25, 2018 at 3:45 am #

      Amanda, I hope this reply ends up in the right place. I like you as a 9 year old. Such empathy and understanding, as well as acceptance of someone with a different appearance and abilities than you have. Your kindness and maturity show in this uplifting story about two creative friends. Dialogue is so real and descriptions of Carrie and your plot to bomb the neighbor’s house – well, I am sitting right there in the mud too. Thanks for a peek at you as a young girl. I think you learned a lot about life in this friendship.

  3. Diane Gosheff
    Diane Gosheff January 25, 2018 at 3:13 am #


    By Diane Gosheff

    To have the adoption records opened, I must convince the appropriate judge in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida that I need my birth parents’ identifying information and medical history. Tommy Johnston, a school friend and attorney in Ft. Lauderdale, is the person who may be helpful. We graduated from Pompano Beach High in 1962 after being friends since first grade. Pompano is north of Ft. Lauderdale about 10 miles and is part of the Broward County court system where the adoption occurred.

    “Hi Tommy, this is Diane Parnell from Pompano High.” I hear the surprise in his voice as he answers the phone.

    “Diane, how are you? Boy, it’s been a long time. Can’t remember the last time we saw each other or talked.”

    “Me either and I’ve been trying to do that. Our class reunions since the first one in 1972 were busy and too short. I know we talked at the one in 1982.  My husband is a captain for Pan Am. You met him then and talked airplanes. You have your private pilot’s license and a Cessna four seater. Isn’t that right”?

    “Good memory. I did talk with your husband. Nice guy. He told great flying stories. Is he still with the airline”?

    “Conrad retired last year, the day before his 60th birthday on September 28, 1993. Federal law requires commercial pilots to do that. The pilot unions work constantly to get the law changed to age 65. He flew for Delta from 1991 for two and a half years. They bought Pan Am’s AB310 planes and the routes served when Pan Am closed. It was a sad day. Conrad was a captain based in New York on the Airbus 310. Delta hired him right away. Their pilots are not trained to fly the Airbus. “


    “What is going on in your life, Tommy? I know you are an attorney in town and that Jeanne manages your office. It must be nice to have a smart wife. I often wish I had one.”

    “Very funny, I bet you do. Jeanne is great. Keeps everything running smoothly and puts out lots of fires. Our daughter is an attorney and works in our office. I am president of the Pompano Chamber of Commerce this year, active in the church, Rotary, and other organizations. Fly whenever I can and sometimes transport patients who can’t afford commercial air fare. What’s up with you”?

    “I need your advice. I want to get my adoption record unsealed after 49 years. The adoption occurred when I was five days old in November 1944. My birth parents are in their 70s now. Time is running out to find them. Since first grade, I have wanted to know who they are.”

    “Right, I remember now. You are adopted and so is Tom Joiner. I’ll be happy to help if I can,” Tommy said.

    “Thank you so much. I will be in Pompano in two weeks. Can we get together at your convenience? I don’t know where else to turn for help. You were a  kind and generous friend  during  school. Sounds like you still are,” I said.

    “Two weeks is fine. Call me when you get here, and we will set up a time to meet at my house. See you soon.”

    “I look forward to it. Good-bye.”

    On a cool, sunny spring morning at eleven o’clock, Tommy and I meet in his front yard.  It is three blocks from our elementary school. A salty ocean breeze flutters the palm fronds above our heads. The sky is clear blue and the air smells fresh.

    “It’s wonderful to see you, Tommy,” as I stretch up to hug his six foot sturdy frame. He smooths his familiar brown crew cut, now scattered with gray.

    “You look great, Diane. It is hard to believe we are forty-nine years old. I thought about our Cotillion dance classes in junior high,” Tommy’s sinister grin widens and his brown eyes sparkle. “Do you remember when we were acting out seating a date at dinner and “

    I interrupt. “You pulled the chair out from under me and I crashed to the floor? I forgot about that. It all comes back to me now. I am still furious. I was embarrassed and had a bruised behind for weeks. Every Cotillion class after that, you and the other boys snickered the moment I arrived.”

    “How can I help you now”? Tommy brushes a leaf from his khaki pants, crosses long legs and leans against his white Buick sedan.

    “My birth parents are Martha and William Smith. Mom gave me their names after Dad died in 1982. You can imagine how difficult it will be to locate them without identifying information such as birth dates and addresses. I want to appeal to the right judge to open the sealed records and release all information to me. Can you guide me to the judge I need to petition, tell me a little about him, and what steps to take to make a strong case”?

    “That shouldn’t be difficult. These cases are assigned to Family Court. Jeanne and I will research the court directory. I will make some calls this week and stop in to see the clerk of Family Court. As soon as I have the information you need, we’ll talk.”

    Tommy walks me to the car. We start to shake hands, stop, and laugh at how ridiculous that is. We have been friends for forty-five years. A hug is due.

    “Thank you, Tommy. I am grateful for anything you can find out for me. Here is my card with both phone numbers you may call anytime day or night.”

    He takes and looks at the card, then puts it in the left pocket of his faded light blue plaid shirt.

    “Goodbye. You are my white knight in khakis. I feel so lucky and hopeful right now,” I wave out the window and blow a kiss, turning right towards downtown.

    • Cheryl Floyd
      Cheryl Floyd January 25, 2018 at 3:48 am #

      Hey Diane,

      I like the way you listed Tommy’s characteristics as per our assignment. I did that too, but forgot to post them. HA! You captured him and made him real for your reader. I like the part about him reminding you about the middle school chair incident. Too funny that he would remember that and bring it up. Isn’t it neat how you can not see someone for along time and just fall right into line as a friend. Thanks for always being a great ‘responder’ in the class postings.

  4. Diane Gosheff
    Diane Gosheff January 25, 2018 at 3:22 am #

    Assignment for Class 1/25/18 – Minor Character in scene – Diane Gosheff

    TOMMY JOHNSTON: Will provide Family Court Judge and guide my petition for records to be opened


    6’1, broad shoulders, wears khaki slacks, light blue/white plaid shirt, tan loafers, no socks

    Brown crew cut with gray scattered through hair

    Warm, wide grin – white even teeth

    Brown eyes: good eye contact, enthusiastic, laughs, enjoys life via affect

    Intelligent, good listener, conversationalist, good memory

    Age is 49

    Humorous – mischievous actions in our elementary through high school years

    Married to Jeanne, a daughter

    Lives in our hometown Pompano Beach, Florida


    Attorney with own practice, daughter is attorney in the firm, wife works as Administrator

    Has private pilot license

    Active in Baptist church, civic organizations, and community politics/projects

    A success in life

    Respected and admired in business and civic life

    Kind, willing to help friends and strangers

    Believes in God; many will attend his funeral one day

  5. Cheryl Floyd
    Cheryl Floyd January 25, 2018 at 3:48 am #

     oops double reply. I couldn’t figure out how to delete it, so I erased one and created this note. Last class! Oh my, how am I going to keep writing without deadlines and assignments????


  6. Beverly Bailey
    Beverly Bailey February 1, 2018 at 1:22 pm #

    Hello to everyone! I’m so sorry I’ve not posted a response to this week’s writing challenge. I did think about the importance of minor characters, though, as I was reading some books. I even reflected on some writings I’ve done and tried to see how a minor character made the whole story work. Wow! They really do. Reminds me of what is said about musicians who occupy a second chair rather than a first chair in an orchestra. The first chair must always play her instrument better than the second who in reality spotlights the first chair. Similarly, a minor character does the same thing for a major character. I’ll remember this lesson a long time!

    Doctors’ appointments and an unexpected electrophysiology test for Larry have taken up my time and attention for the last two weeks. He has a pacemaker, but two cardiologists wanted to be sure his ventricles were not acting up, so Larry had this test at ORMC this past Tuesday. The ventricles are fine, and the cardiologist did not have to add the defibrillator to his pacemaker. Arythmia in the ventricles is much more life-threatening than it is in the atriums.

    I love being with all five of you! I told Patricia at the beginning of our six weeks how much this group and the intimacy of sharing our stories and writing challenges add a huge dimension to my creative life. Thank you, thank you for helping me. I’ll miss being with you.

    • Diane Gosheff
      Diane Gosheff February 1, 2018 at 10:44 pm #

      I feel good after seeing you in our group today. Your comment about the second and first chairs in an orchestra is new information for me. It will help when I write and remember to include the minor characters . Sounds like Larry’s doctors are taking good care of him. Look forward to another writing time with you and your invaluable critiques.

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