Character Exercise

Going to try character development NOT through exposition. I’m going to try and describe a character’s appearance and temperament through action and dialogue. Here we go.


WHACK! The sound her toe made as it hit the corner of the table sounded like a carrot snapping and the small cracking echoed through her toe and leg. Her whole body clenched, preparing for the pain even before she felt it.

“Goddess’s tits and arse!” she swore, hopping up and down clutching her foot, only to lose her balance and have to set down said foot, putting pressure on the offending appendage. “Fuck shit and damn!” she bellowed, tears popping into her eyes as she lifted her toes up and walked on her heel to the small settee, practically falling on it.

She lifted her foot, and glared at her toe.  “You are NOT broken!” she told it sternly, too angry to embarrassed about speaking out loud to an empty room or addressing a toe. She tentatively touched her pinky toe and moved it. Slightly. Her breath hissed in as pain lanced through her. Yep. It was definitely broken.

“Blast it all,” she muttered. It had to be the day her father had gone to the next town over for a delivery. Why they kept the bandages on the shelf in the entry closet was a mystery to her and a problem she was going to resolve as soon as she got the damn things down.  She hobbled over to the small closet and pushed aside the curtain covering it and then stood staring up at the shelf.  Uninjured, she could just reach the bandages if she stood on her tiptoes, but that was completely out of the question at the moment. So, she glanced around and limped over to the dining table, grabbed one of the straight-backed chairs, lifted, and began to walk back to the closet. It took two steps to convince her that it was going to be harder than she expected.

She was so short that the top rung of the chair back came to her neck when flat on the ground. Lifting the thing only gave the legs an inch or so clearance and she had to shuffle her feet to move forward. With a broken toe, that proved to be very painful. She stared at the chair, a frown on her face, eyed the distance to the closet, and swung her green eyes back to the chair. Suddenly, her face brightened.

“Got you now, you blasted chair!” she crowed. Grasping the chair, she lifted it up onto one leg and twirled it so that it landed back facing her side, seat the wall, and she put her arm over the top. Grasping the lower rung on the ladder back chair, she pulled the chair to her side and, using it as a crutch, lifted and walked, lifted and walked, back to the closet.

Getting up on the chair was easy, grabbing the bandages was easy, but climbing down from her perch took gritted teeth, balance, and determination. Still, she sat on the settee, bandages in hand, panting from pain, but victorious.  She lifted her injured foot onto the opposite knee and leaned forward to start wrapping the broken toe to the whole ones. Her black hair kept falling into her face and getting in the way of her hands, causing her to toss her head and puff air out of her mouth, but she was determined to wrap her blasted foot.

Finally, her foot was wrapped and she allowed herself a moment of sitting still before she rose and rummaged in the closet for her summer sandals. She strapped one on her injured foot and then put her boot on the other foot. She stared at her mix-matched feet and grinned. There. Now she can get some work done.

When her father returned home that afternoon, he found the garden weeded and hoed, ready for winter crops, the animals fed and watered, and the rugs strung on the line ready to be beaten free of dust. Inside, Aella was standing at the stove, stirring something, humming.

“How did it go today?”

“Father!” She turned and grinned at him, her green eyes brightening. “Welcome back.” She frowned slightly. “Take off those dusty boots and stamp off some of that road dust. I just dusted in here AND swept. And wash up! It’s only toasted sandwiches for dinner, but you don’t want grit on your bread.”

He laughed. “You’ve been busy!” he called back as he stepped outside to follow directions.

“Yes, well, I wanted to get as much done before it starts getting dark at four in the afternoon. Come on, you must be hungry.”

He smiled at her as he walked in his socks into the kitchen to grab a sandwich and a cup of water. It was his turn to frown as he saw her limp toward the dinning room table.

“What happened to your foot?”

“Hmm? Oh, yeah, I banged it on the table this morning. I’m pretty sure I broke my pinky toe.”

He stared at Aella, speechless for a moment, before taking a deep breath. He sometimes loved having such an independent daughter, but other times patience was a necessary commodity. “Aella..” he started, only to be interrupted.

“Don’t worry, Father, I’ll get the rugs done tomorrow!” Aella said brightly, biting into her sandwich.

He groaned and dropped his head into his hands.


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