Creating a Character

Nell is a very large woman with boxy shoulders and large hips. She’s not unattractive; her auburn hair is thick and silky, but usually dangles in one long braid down her back. She wears jackets with fringed sleeves, blue jeans, and beautiful leather boots. And yes, a pair of fancy silver spurs, a large hat, and a loosely tied bandana around her neck.

Nell’s hands are calloused from ranch work. She mends fences, stacks hay and straw bales in the barn loft, and mucks twenty stalls each day. Her nails are long and painted a ruby red, her favorite color.  She is able to protect her perfectly tapered nails from breaking by wearing gloves while chores are done.

Green eyes flash as she talks, and every once in awhile, she will light up a Marlboro… but not too often. She prides herself in eating right – never any sweets and never any soda pop. Occasionally, she will drink a beer or down a shot of whiskey, but everything in moderation. Nell plans to be around for a long time. Why, her dear mother and father both lived to be one hundred!

Nell is tanned a deep brown by long hours spent in the warm Kansas sun. Right now, she is sitting in the trailer of a young rodeo rider, and if we listen closely to the conversation, we realize the rider is her youngest daughter Lizzie. We learn that Lizzie raises quarter horses and often sells them as cutting horses and even show horses. She’s sad right now because Nell is sharing news –  she’s going to ask Lizzie’s father for a divorce. The shock on Lizzie’s face tells us that this news is totally unexpected. “Why?” Lizzie asks.

“Ask your father. ” Nell replies.


Thanks to the twowritingteachers blog team and this writing community for providing us with an opportunity to share our writing with educators across the country. The Slice of Life March challenge to write and post every day always inspires me to take some risks. I learn so much. Thank you!