A Contest of Character

Hi everyone, today is the first day in a little contest I’ve decided to run, and yes, there is a point to all of this. So please, read on –

The Contest

I am looking for the most well-written and best overall character description out there. I am not going to go into details of what I’m looking for or how I want you to write it, I’m leaving it up to you. Nor will I list the required format or style in which you need to write your description, whether it be a few paragraphs or simply a list. Whatever works for you. It’s not the look of it – it’s the content I’m interested in.

The Rules

1. Character descriptions must be posted on this blog as a comment to this post. No emails – I’ll just delete them.

2. Descriptions can be no more than 750 words. And yes, I’ll check.

3. You may only enter once. If I catch you cheating all your entries will be disqualified.

4. You must enter your real email address in the form when adding your comment to the blog. I’ll need a way to get in touch with you should you win.

5. If you win, I’ll need your real name, address, and phone number so that I can send you your prize. And no, you don’t need to post that. We’ll do all of that privately via email.

6. You may not post questions regarding the contest on this post. If you have questions you may post them on the Editor Chat page. Whether I answer them is another thing…

And finally, the contest is open from now until this Friday (3/21) Midnight Pacific Standard Time. PST. And yes *sigh* your posts are time stamped, so no late entries will be accepted. Leucrota Press editors will go through all of the descriptions over the weekend, and we’ll announce the winner as well as the why’s early the next week.

The prize

I have a brand-spankin’ new (and shrink wrapped, too) copy of the Writer’s Character Traits Companion that’s up for grabs. It’s a nifty little notebook that you can carry around with you to keep notes on your observations to help you create more believable and well-rounded characters. The book is divided up into multiple little tabs that include things like physical characteristics, personality traits, interesting notes, etc. It’s to help manage your thoughts and raise questions about your characters you might not have thought of before. Oh yeah, and in case you’re wondering it’s black and silver and spiral bound….

The Why

Well, I’m doing this as an exercise for you (and everyone else that doesn’t want to enter but is interested in what the hell I’m doing) to really try to deepen your characters and learn how to write thorough descriptions of them.

So please remember that we are NOT judging this contest on how cool or how unique your alien concept is – we are judging on the writing of the profile itself; what is included, what kind of information was given, and what was left out. We are NOT basing our judgement on the character itself, but rather the description of the character. Make sense?

Why don’t I just post instructions on the “how’s” and “what’s” to writing a character profile?

Well, because I thought this would be more fun than just a single post. I do plan on writing a nice article on the who, what, and why of character descriptions, but I’m going to hold off until this little contest closes before I give my opinion on how to write the “ultimate” character description. This way, it’s a little more of an… interactive way of learning by letting you answer the questions first, and will hopefully spark some later conversations after I respond with my own versions.

Good luck.

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4 Responses

  1. THE SANDMAN!!!!!!!!

    The sunset came and brought a windy storm came to the dirt forest road. The thick groves of trees at the left and right swayed forward with the force of the wind. Sitting on the back of his muscular bodied black horse, Blisk, as it strode slowly through the rain the Sandman’s glowing blue eyes peered from under the hood of his black robe as it fluttered under the cold wind. The hood partially covered the top portion of his gray skinned face. Beneath his hood his long black hair, hanging down past his shoulders, felt like the multiple legs of a swarm of insects crawling down the back of his neck and across the sides of his face. The long black cape that he wore over his robe, fastenedaround his neck by a gleeming silver chain, flowed almost winglike with the cold gusts of windy air. He did not mind the cold wind, but he hated the rain. He despised it’s cleansing purity. He scowled, gritting his white, pointed teeth tightly as the constant patter of the rain beating down against his hood irritated him.
    His cape and robe provided him with a small degree of protection against the rain. But his black trousers, tucked into his black knee high boots resting in his saddle’s stirrups, were exposed to the downpour.He was repulsed by the feeling of the cold wet fabric clinging to his thighs and knees. Slung over his right shoulder and hanging across his chest was a long chain, turned brown by months of rust. On this chain the Sandman carried his twelve trophy skulls. All bleached milky white and strung by the chain through their empty eye sockets.
    He directed Blisk down the rain soaked road towards the cemetary. His hands, with the black gloves that were long enough to cover his forearms, held tightly onto his horse’s black leather reigns. He heard a faint crumch as his weight shifted against the hard leathery saddle beneath him. A bright flash of lightning suddenly lit up the tree lined road. Seconds later the loud rumble of thunder drowned out the steady plish and splash of Blisk’s hoof beats as he advanced along the wet road.
    A wide grim appeared on the Samdman’s face as he and Blisk approached their destination. The cemetary. Tiny veins at the sides of his lips glowed red and faded with the movement of his facial muscles. He pulled back sharply on the reigns, stopping Blisk at the edge of thevast sloping green field, dotted with hundreds of grey stone crosses and head stones. He looked past the hills and trees beyond the cemetary and watched the sun setting over the horizon.

  2. The sickly sweet stench of rotting meat in high summer was what his rational mind told him to expect but reason had apparently abandoned him. The woman before him was beautiful in spite of the fact he knew she belonged six feet under. She was dead; three years dead as a matter of fact and had been buried only slightly less time. But here she was, in all of her worm-eaten and moldy glory. The shriveled flesh of her face stretched back in a permanent mad leer while the cloudy blue irises of her eyes stared blankly at him as she took another oddly graceful step forward closing the distance between them.

    He was seeing her, but not as she now was. The hair now patchy and tangled with mud and leaves was in his eyes clean, golden and lush. Instead of the milky white cataracts, he was being regarded with the most intense, intelligent blue eyes he’d ever seen. While her skin was dry, withered, and torn over patches of exposed skull, he saw only supple, healthy and unblemished flesh seductively displayed within black satin fabric that begged his fingers to be touched. Her smile was suggestive and beguiling, and the gleam in her eyes left little doubt what her intentions were. As she took another ethereal step forward, the scent of lavender that filled his nostrils and eased his nerves intensified tenfold.

    “Come to me,” the dead thing croaked. He heard only the music of a sweet feminine voice suffused with adoration. “I’ve missed you.”

    The shrinking distance between them only seemed to intensify his desire for his lost love. He longed to taste those lusciously plumped and glossy lips, to pull her to him and feel her warmth. It had been so long. When she stepped forward, he matched her movement. When her arms closed around him though, there was no warmth. There was only the cold steel vise of wet earth surrounding him, its musk cloying at his senses and awakening the horror that had so recently been seduced from him. It had him: this thing that had once been the woman he loved had blinded him with visions of who she had once been and trapped him.

    He fought against the rotten fabric that even now disintegrated beneath his struggling arms, but the dead flesh beneath was unyielding. In spite of the worms that wriggled out from its depths; contrary to the holes in the skin where bones peeked out at the night; at odds with the clumps of slime and muck that dropped from the thing as it moved, it was solid and inescapable. Even as he tried to scream, its grip tightened around his chest, forcing the air from his lungs in a useless rushing gasp. He kicked and bucked and thrashed as hard as he could to no avail until finally the thing sank its teeth into him.

  3. Fin

    The warm summer sun descended in the distance, the final rays coming through the dusty window, giving his skin a burnished look. Fin sat covered in his silken black cloak, watching as his hand shifted colour with the lengthening of the shadows. His scarred face was growing warm as the sun managed to hit it with the dying evening rays. Fin pulled back his hood to reveal the short cropped brown hair that sat above the handsome features of his face. The icy blue eyes, the well tapered nose, and the enthusiastic smile that usually joined the features of his face on a night such as this one.
    Slowly he moved his hand to feel the bronze pendant dangling from the chain around his neck, his mother’s chain. Former mothers. That is what this night was all about. The death of his mother had lead him down this forlorn path, at least, that is what the voices told him had happened. The voices came from time to time, sometimes in their masses; other times just one, normally the voice of a wizard who went by the name of Thaed.
    Fin stared at the arrangement of weapons arrayed in front of him, trying to decide on the correct tool for tonight’s job. Some would call him and assassin, but no, that wasn’t right. Assassins had purpose, asked for something in return for their jobs. Not so with Fin. He just did it because it felt right. It made his world feel a little cleaner every time he did it. So no, not an assassin. A thief maybe; not an assassin.
    Not much time left now. Glancing out the window he saw the storm clouds gathering. He rose from his chair, the clacking of his black boots sounding loud to his ears. He reached out, the cloak falling away from his arm to reveal the corded muscles bound eagerly under the calm surface of his skin.
    The voices were returning as he reached for his weapon. No no! Not the sword. Everyone uses a sword for these kind of things. No, not the sword. It’s too easy with a sword. A flail is not good for assassinations. Not an assassin. That’s not what Fin did. His eyes fell upon the mace, sitting dejectedly in the corner. He had not used the mace in such a long time. It seemed to stare at him imploring. Why not? Why don’t I get used? Oh, the mace will get used tonight. Fin liked the way it handled, how when it descended on the sleeping head of the victim, the blood would spray in all directions, not just drain away from the hole, wherever he decided to put it.
    Slowly, he picked up the mace, and slid it slowly into a loop on his brown leather belt. He took off his boots. It wouldn’t do to have people looking for his boots. He liked those boots. And so, moving silently on his calloused feet, still grinning enthusiastically, the not assassin slid from the room to complete the nights work.

  4. Life Summary: Lewis Landry is a twenty-nine year old American male. He is single, and lives in a one-room apartment in the mid-sized suburban town of Limehill alone (no pets, either.) He has no steady employment because he is often fired or forced to quit because of the copious amounts of sick days he takes. Lewis is diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, but lives fairly comfortably using medication and independent, in-home physical therapy. As long as he watches what he eats, and doesn’t drink or exert himself in excess, his symptoms don’t typically require a hospital visit. He is improperly diagnosed and treated for hypertension. His highest level of education is a high school diploma. He has also taken two semesters of college under a history major before dropping out due to health problems.

    Physical Appearance: Lewis is 5’5” tall, and weighs 112 pounds. He has dirty-blonde hair, which he wears short, and hazel eyes. He doesn’t wear makeup or cologne, usually has a clean-shaven face, and he has no unusual marks or features on his body. He is visibly underweight due to his medical conditions. He tries to wear nice clothes despite his small income. He is partial to earth tones, and usually wears men’s dress shirts, turtleneck sweaters, and corduroy pants. He has worn the same pair of black tennis shoes every day for the past three years. They reek. He bites his fingernails.

    Special Talents or Powers: Excels at giving and remembering directions. Probably could be a decent journalist if he was willing to try. As for special powers… Nope.

    Personality: Lewis is unmotivated and weak-willed most of the time. Around people he doesn’t know well, he is unusually nervous and self-conscious. However, he has a surprisingly short temper and an extremely dirty mouth to go along with it. When he is upset with himself, he tends to get short with unsuspecting strangers, even more unsuspecting friends, or, most often, customers at his jobs. This gets him fired slightly less than his spotty attendance. Because of the fact that his condition progresses with age, he is very sensitive to subjects involving death. His hobbies are writing in an observation journal and stargazing. He loves food from Taco Bell, watching the History channel, and writing epic poetry. He is annoyed by people who make extremely particular requests, bad traffic, road signs, and most things having to do with weddings. He is afraid of UFOs, death, pain, angry people, and Nakkita’s husband.

    Social Life: Lewis has a few friends at his old jobs around town. He rarely calls them, (He doesn’t own a landline phone, and only uses his cell for emergencies.) so he visits them in their workplaces more often, and goes out to the movies or to get a drink with them about once a month. He has had minimal contact with his parents since leaving college, and doesn’t even go home on holidays. The nurse who regularly monitors his condition during weekly checkups is a twenty eight year old woman, healthy and married going on four years, Nakkita Karston. He has known her and been a patient of hers for five years, and feels she is the only woman he has ever been in love with. Lewis spends some time with Nakkita outside of the clinic, in addition to his frequent checkups. He tries to drop a hint that he likes her every so often, but they end up seeming more polite or friendly than romantic, so Nakkita is oblivious, and is perfectly satisfied with their friendship as-is.

    Tidbits: His phone is never on “ring.” He always has it set to “vibrate” and rarely manages to answer it the first time someone calls.

    He doesn’t like that his friends always try to help him like he has horrible money problems, even though he does have horrible money problems.

    People often ask him if he’s forgotten his glasses. His eyesight is perfect, actually, but he just looks like the type who would keep his eyes behind glasses. The fact that he tends to run into things and is also a poor driver probably has something to do with it, too.

    His most recent job is working as a delivery guy for an upscale local bakery. He’s absolutely thrilled to be delivering wedding cakes on a regular basis… Yeah, right.

    (This just kept getting longer, even though Lewis is one of my most ‘normal’ characters. 721 words in the word processor I was using. )

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