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Rated: 13+ · Assignment · Educational · #2150403
This example provides a prompt, checklist, a student vignette and an instructor review
On a piece of paper or your computer screen write Chapter 1 and give it a title.

The time has come to write Vignette 1 of the Three Part Character Development Model. You will be sketching the Central Character of the Novel you'll be writing. Note: Please Write in Third Person Past Tense. Write in any genre you choose; The Model works for all.

In this, your first vignette, give the reader a good prose sketch of what you will be writing in Chapter 1. Start if off in a world you are familiar with by introducing a Central Character (CC). Show the CC operating in the Story World. Show his/her wants needs, and/or desires. Give the reader a glimpse of the Back Story and a Before Snapshot of the CC prior to the tempo picking up next lesson in vignette 2. So while you are now only writing Vignette 1 be thinking of how Vignettes 1, 2, and 3 will flow together. For now, show the CC to start with, before things get hectic and lead to the Life Changing Event.

Use this checklist to be sure you have included all of the vital aspects in your vignette.

Have you named the 1st Chapter?
Do you show a Central Character (CC)?
Do you show the CC's Modus Operandi? (MO)
Do you show the Story World?
Do you show Want, Need and Desire?
Do you show a deeper or hidden problem in the CC?
Is this a world you have experience with?
Is the CC on the cusp of the LCE?

Angel's lesson 2 Vignette Submission:

Chapter 1 An Awakening

She listened to the heated discussion downstairs, she even smiled to herself, it was an odd reaction considering the situation, but this was nothing new for Gemma. Different place, different people, yes, but the same discussion, always the same one, about her.

'What's wrong with her?' John raised his voice a little, in frustration.

'I don't know, it started out fine, but something about her is strange' snapped Jackie.

'How do you mean strange?' John was exasperated but he was out of the house for five days out of seven on the boats, he hadn't had as much contact with Gemma as Jackie had. He was trying to understand. Jackie was trying to explain but wasn't making much sense. John did recognise, however, that Jackie was at breaking point and that this was out of character for her. He calmed himself down and spoke to her gently.

'Sit down love; we knew this wasn't going to be easy, especially after she's already been in so many different homes'

'I know, and I was prepared for a difficult child' replied Jackie a little defensively, 'but she's not, her room is immaculate, she does her chores without having to be told, you've seen her, she's the same as when you're here; goes to bed on time, sleeps well, eats well, I can't fault her.'

'So what's the problem?' John asked, as he couldn't understand where Jackie was going with this.

'She makes my head muddled, John, it hurts and I feel this sense of panic and sometimes dread around her, it's the only way I can explain it.' Jackie was trying hard to put into words the effect Gemma was having on her. She was imploring him to feel what she did, but she knew he didn't.

'What about the girls, is she having the same effect on them?'

John and Jackie had two other girls, Tiana, aged ten who they had already adopted, and Penny, aged eight who they were fostering.

'Their teachers have both reported that their concentration in class is down'

'Why didn't you mention this?'

'Because I thought it was them adjusting, that's all, but apparently, it's getting worse. I can't say why but I know Gemma has something to do with it. I don't know what it is but it's affecting all of us.'

'I haven't noticed anything.'

'That could be because you're working away so much of the week.'

'It could be. Look, we've helped enough children in our time to know that we can't help them all. Maybe Gemma is one we can't help, I just feel bad after what she's gone through already; I'll ring Rosie tomorrow and have a chat with her, get some background into why she's been given up before, we weren't given exact details. If it's a similar thing then I'll start the paperwork, ok.'

'Thank you, I wasn't sure you'd understand.'

'I'm not sure I do but I trust your judgement'

Gemma had been listening thoughtfully to the conversation as she sat idly drawing, a skill she had naturally picked up and found that she enjoyed, especially during times of stress. Even at such a young age, it was easy to see that she was gifted at this as a tan dog began to emerge on the paper; it looked more like a picture drawn by a child twice her age.

At six, Gemma was a little small for her age, just three feet in height. Her sparkling green eyes set off her sandy, almost red, hair. She took in all who first saw her with a smile that was different, not that anyone could explain how it was different; many would only say later that her smile was deceiving and that this was one of the things about her that unnerved them, that they had been uncharacteristically taken in by this.

As John and Jackie had found out, Gemma wasn't a bad child but she was a puzzle that people thought they could solve; when they couldn't, it appeared they quickly gave up. This meant that in her short life, Gemma had been bounced from one foster home to another. All who took her in thought they would be the ones to make the breakthrough, get her to talk to them, but they would end up unnaturally frustrated when they couldn't. The results of these issues were that Gemma, time after time, was returned to the home, all without her uttering a word. Not a sound had ever passed Gemma's lips and yet she still managed to disturb so many people.

Gemma always watched the adults closely when she first arrived in a new foster home; they would run about her like spiders, trying to please her.

'Would you like this?'

'What about that?'

She would answer their questions, they just didn't hear her, she never understood that, why couldn't they hear her answers, each time she would eventually just let it all go over her head and mostly stopped trying. This would be when the inevitable would happen and back to the home she would go.

Gemma, herself, had been poked, prodded and tested over the years, and as far as anyone could tell she was perfectly normal, in fact, she was extremely bright in all areas. They eventually put her non-verbal issues down to selective mutism and that she would talk when she was ready. What they'd failed to take into account was that even when she was a baby she never cried, not a sound. There had been a theory that she'd been damaged by the cocktail of drugs, some of them very strange, that her mother took while carrying her; that theory faded into the distance and now selective mutism was the label she had acquired. Unfortunately, there weren't a great variety of doctors where Gemma lived. It was too expensive to go the mainland for a child in the system.

The island, on which Gemma lived, King's Atoll, was an idyllic place full of exotic plants, long, sandy beaches and a clear ocean. It was a small British owned island discovered fifty years before and still had a small active volcano. It was at the far northern end of the island and tended to rumble and send out small amounts of lava, helping the island to grow a little larger each year but nothing severe. The first visitors to the island were the volcanologists and their families, coming to investigate the volcano, then, the botanists came to study the plant life. Both groups set up camps, building small settlements, living in different areas. The volcanologists lived a little to the north, slightly closer to the volcano, the botanists settled further south, as the plants were unable to grow north where the lava was fresh. The island was eventually deemed safe to live on because of the volcano's benign nature and these two settlements were the beginnings of the two main towns, Victoria Point, to the South and Inlet Bay in the North, where Gemma currently lived.

The island attracted a mix of people, all with money, sadly, not all of them were the kind you'd want living next door to you. Money comes from many different sources, investments, inheritances, drugs and other criminal activity, to name a few. It meant that the island, the same as most communities had a mix of good, bad, poor and rich. Because of this, it also saw its share of neglected children like Gemma.

John had gone the following day to speak to Rosie but she wasn't too forthcoming, it appeared she didn't appear happy at the thought of having to find another foster family for Gemma. She tried everything to persuade John to keep Gemma but this made him suspicious and in the end, it was Rosie's protests that helped him make up his mind and he collected the papers that day for him and Jackie to fill in and sign. This was only the second time they had had to return a child and they'd fostered eleven children before Gemma. They filled in the papers that night and returned them the following morning. It would take about a week for it all to go through. John had also decided that he needed to be at home to support Jackie. He had some holiday owing to him, so he had rung his manager and organised to take some leave so he could stay at home and help.

It was during this period that he saw for himself, or rather felt what Jackie had been trying to convey, it was only then that he genuinely agreed with Jackie. He had gone along with her because he trusted her, but now he was certain that they'd made the right decision as he too began succumbing to an unusual state of depression and anxiety.

It was the day before Gemma was due to be returned to the home, John and Jackie had already sat down with her and explained that it wasn't her fault but that they had found that they couldn't cope with three children after all and that they were sorry but she was going to have to go back. Gemma had thought 'I know they're lying, it is my fault, there's something wrong with me. How can I argue with them, they know things I don't? How can I tell them I'm happy here, that I don't want to leave? Yes, I could write it, but I've tried that before, it didn't help, they sent me back anyway'. Instead, she had smiled at them as if to say it's alright, I understand and gave in. She didn't understand though and it was getting harder each time this happened. On this last night, the family had settled to a final meal together and then tried to go about their normal business, homework, watching tv. They put on some of Gemma's favourite cartoons, she had written at times that she liked certain programmes and so tonight, it was all about Gemma. It also helped them not to think about the following day.

The following day came around a lot quicker than anyone expected. At around four in the morning, everyone awoke abruptly as the ground shook violently. The house felt as if it was falling down and things began coming off shelves. Gemma woke from a dream in which she was falling, only to find that she was lying on the floor. Jackie and John were attempting to run through the rooms desperately trying to collect all of the children and get them out of the house. They reached Gemma and pulled her out from under the bed where she had hidden in sheer terror. They all got out of the house in only a few minutes by which time all was calm again. None of them had ever experienced an earthquake before; there had been rumblings because of the volcano, but nothing as strong as this. They looked at the house, it was intact thankfully and nobody was hurt, but such a strong earthquake was disturbing. Gemma looked on, more with curiosity now than fear; it was as if she knew what was coming.

Angel's Lesson 2 Vignette Review

Angel,

This is an awesome submission. When I read it I took a deep breath and said OMG! I'm impressed when a student follows direction and just hands in some words that meet the requirements but this vignette lifted the class standard right off the charts. Something is definitely fueling your creativity and whatever it is you should feel thankful because it's called talent.

If I picked up a novel and read this as a first chapter I'd take it to the cash register. Yo've included everything the model asked for and set up beautifully a transition into vignette 2.

Regarding the components you started off with some informative dialog but came back with exposition describing the Story World and Gemma's place in it. You added some backstory, showed where things were heading and gave the reader a before snapshot not only of Gemma but the world she lived in and those who surrounded her. Finally you left the reader hanging with the last line. She is perhaps the most enigmatic character I've seen portrayed in the workshop... Gemma is awash in it. In my view a unique and interesting character is the best hook a story can have and that is what I found so compelling about your first vignette.

So having provided some accolades, lets dispense with them and put your vignette under the microscope of the "Dreaded" Checklist.

Have you named the 1st Chapter?

Yes, Chapter 1, An Awakening. I especially liked the opening...
"She listened to the heated discussion downstairs, she even smiled to herself, it was an odd reaction considering the situation, but this was nothing new for Gemma. Different place, different people, yes, but the same discussion, always the same one, about her."

Do you show a Central Character (CC)?
Yes, but we also get to see two supporting characters, her foster parents, John and Jackie.
John.... this line spoke volumes for John's character.
'How do you mean strange?' John was exasperated but he was out of the house for five days out of seven on the boats, he hadn't had as much contact with Gemma as Jackie had. He was trying to understand. Jackie was trying to explain but wasn't making much sense. John did recognise, however, that Jackie was at breaking point and that this was out of character for her. He calmed himself down and spoke to her gently."
Jackie... here shows a mother's intuition.
'Because I thought it was them adjusting, that's all, but apparently, it's getting worse. I can't say why but I know Gemma has something to do with it. I don't know what it is but it's affecting all of us.'
"At six, Gemma was a little small for her age, just three feet in height. Her sparkling green eyes set off her sandy, almost red, hair. She took in all who first saw her with a smile that was different, not that anyone could explain how it was different; many would only say later that her smile was deceiving and that this was one of the things about her that unnerved them, that they had been uncharacteristically taken in by this."

Do you show the CC's Modus Operandi? (MO)
Yes, you show how Gemma physically behaves and conducts herself.
"'I know, and I was prepared for a difficult child' replied Jackie a little defensively, 'but she's not, her room is immaculate, she does her chores without having to be told, you've seen her, she's the same as when you're here; goes to bed on time, sleeps well, eats well, I can't fault her.'"

Do you show the Story World?
Yes, You describe king's Atol.
"The island, on which Gemma lived, King's Atoll, was an idyllic place full of exotic plants, long, sandy beaches and a clear ocean. It was a small British owned island discovered fifty years before and still had a small active volcano. It was at the far northern end of the island and tended to rumble and send out small amounts of lava, helping the island to grow a little larger each year but nothing severe. The first visitors to the island were the volcanologists and their families, coming to investigate the volcano, then, the botanists came to study the plant life. Both groups set up camps, building small settlements, living in different areas. The volcanologists lived a little to the north, slightly closer to the volcano, the botanists settled further south, as the plants were unable to grow north where the lava was fresh. The island was eventually deemed safe to live on because of the volcano's benign nature and these two settlements were the beginnings of the two main towns, Victoria Point, to the South and Inlet Bay in the North, where Gemma currently lived.

Do you show Want, Need and Desire?
Yes and No.
Yes, Gemma wants to remain in her present foster home.
No, the reader does not get a sense for a deeper inner need, or desire.

Do you show a deeper or hidden problem in the CC?
Yes, Gemma seems to have some psychological problems but I think the reader will soon discover it goes much deeper than that.
"'She makes my head muddled, John, it hurts and I feel this sense of panic and sometimes dread around her, it's the only way I can explain it.' Jackie was trying hard to put into words the effect Gemma was having on her. She was imploring him to feel what she did, but she knew he didn't."
"As John and Jackie had found out, Gemma wasn't a bad child but she was a puzzle that people thought they could solve; when they couldn't, it appeared they quickly gave up. This meant that in her short life, Gemma had been bounced from one foster home to another. All who took her in thought they would be the ones to make the breakthrough, get her to talk to them, but they would end up unnaturally frustrated when they couldn't. The results of these issues were that Gemma, time after time, was returned to the home, all without her uttering a word. Not a sound had ever passed Gemma's lips and yet she still managed to disturb so many people."
Gemma, herself, had been poked, prodded and tested over the years, and as far as anyone could tell she was perfectly normal, in fact, she was extremely bright in all areas. They eventually put her non-verbal issues down to selective mutism and that she would talk when she was ready. What they'd failed to take into account was that even when she was a baby she never cried, not a sound. There had been a theory that she'd been damaged by the cocktail of drugs, some of them very strange, that her mother took while carrying her; that theory faded into the distance and now selective mutism was the label she had acquired. Unfortunately, there weren't a great variety of doctors where Gemma lived. It was too expensive to go the mainland for a child in the system.

Is this a world you have experience with?

I think that what Gemma is experiencing has its origins in your life. The reader gets a powerful empathy for the CC that resonates with the authenticity of similar experiences. No, I'm not saying its autobiographical, but rather there appears to be a germ of yourself in the young child you describe.

Is the CC on the cusp of the LCE?

Yes, you set that up beautifully, describing the earthquake and forshadowing that there are more aftershocks to follow.
"The following day came around a lot quicker than anyone expected. At around four in the morning, everyone awoke abruptly as the ground shook violently. The house felt as if it was falling down and things began coming off shelves. Gemma woke from a dream in which she was falling, only to find that she was lying on the floor. Jackie and John were attempting to run through the rooms desperately trying to collect all of the children and get them out of the house. They reached Gemma and pulled her out from under the bed where she had hidden in sheer terror. They all got out of the house in only a few minutes by which time all was calm again. None of them had ever experienced an earthquake before; there had been rumblings because of the volcano, but nothing as strong as this. They looked at the house, it was intact thankfully and nobody was hurt, but such a strong earthquake was disturbing. Gemma looked on, more with curiosity now than fear; it was as if she knew what was coming.

Your vignette provides ample evidence of what the Lesson was looking for and what the Prompt and Checklist specifically asked for. I can't wait to read Vignette 2, Lesson 3.

percy bob
© Copyright 2018 percy goodfellow (trebor at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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