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26 characters in search of a story


Weird sideways alphabet code for keeping track 

A) They write and rewrite the first nine chapters of their book, like some masochistic Sisyphus. It’s still less painful than real life.

B) She wants to play traffic controller, air controller. She wants to tell everyone else what to do and where to go. STOP. GO. STOP. GO. Driving is scary. And she’s never flown.

C) He’s the Super-Sweety. The jellybean gumball. He wants to be a sour chew, but will never have that acidic edge. He makes your day better and gives you a sugar high. Until he sets your teeth on edge and your patience starts to crash.

D) They apologise. Sorry. Sorry. And then apologise for apologising. A snake choking on its own tail, and then apologising for being a snake.

E) The softly spoken, sweetly smiling honey trickle of a girl. Who never shows you the bees in her head.

F) The mechanic. But not for cars. For you. He finds your faults, and assures you he can fix them, but you know it will cost.

G) That guy’s a bald-headed baby in a suit. He grins and gurgles his satisfaction, until you dare to correct his stats.

H) This priest is such a good man that it seems like a crime when you tell him you don’t want to get confirmed.

I) The guy with a voice like a trumpet, and the bright eyes of a beagle. He slams you into his joy wall until your head is ringing.

J) He’s a fake Gucci bag, but it takes you a minute to see it.

K) She’s Tubberwared her weeks. Tuesday morning is for swimming. Thursday night is for the church group. Saturday afternoon is for cleaning.

L) At work she’s a solid ship in a storm, and everyone loves her for it. But her daughter delights in blowing her off course.

M) He trails around after you, and makes his eyes go wide like you’re at fault. The puppy kicker. How could you?

N) She wears pale lipstick that frosts her already cold mouth.

O) He wants you to love what he loves. And he’ll waterboard you with words. Until you confess that you get it.

P) She wants to be a model. She has the height. But not the face?

Q) She is a VERY GOOD FRIEND. She’s roped you to her with matching bracelets.

R) He’s so vain that he’s put a poster of Prince over his bed, because he thinks that Prince looks like him…That Prince LOOKS LIKE HIM? This short little white guy.

S) He’s annoyingly well balanced. He rides a bike. He makes money. He bakes.

T) You know that he’d stop to change a stranger’s tyre. In the rain. In a thunderstorm. In an apocalypse. He might make a hash of it. But you know that he’d stop and try.

U) You don’t trust him because he always speaks ill of his hamster. It’s boring. It’s a little shit. He might get a cat.

V) He’s perpetually sunburned. A raw strip of bacon on legs.

W) He has two modes. Stride. Or lie flat and snore.

X) She’s cool. She’s Canadian. She’s into cosplay. But she takes shit from her boyfriend, because she likes his English accent.

Y) You can rely on him showing up 50% of the time. The other 50% he’ll be sat on a step, slowly slurping on a chocolate milkshake.

Z) She picks at the cuffs of her jumpers until she can loop her thumbs through. It drives her Mum mad, but it’s better than pulling out your feathers?

Week 38

I recently interviewed the comedian Stuart Laws on my podcast. (His episode will be out in a few weeks.)

He spoke about trying to find a single phrase to capture one of his friends. I thought that would be fun to translate to potential characters. So I had a quick go. (Narrators and story kept nudging their way in though!)

I just picked 26 (like letters in the alphabet) to have a fun target to aim for in the session.

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