Excerpt from The Portable Writers’ Workshop

Posted on Jul 09 2014

PWCHi, everybody! Marcy here. I couldn’t let Daphne Martin outdo me by giving up one blog post for Gayle Trent’s new writing book, THE PORTABLE WRITERS’ WORKSHOP. After all, Gayle (as Amanda Lee, in my case) writes about our adventures, so we have to help her out where we can.

So today, I present you with an excerpt from THE PORTABLE WRITERS’ WORKSHOP:



One way to get to know your characters is via a character sketch. I’ll use characters from both Anything For A Buck and Photo Finish [two of my earlier works] to demonstrate.


Roxanne Weatherly from Anything For A Buck

First, let’s look at the name. I needed a name that would fit a sophisticated young woman but also one that could be given a male derivative since she will be posing as a boy at the construction site. I chose Roxanne–“Rocky” to the guys at the site. “Weatherly” has a certain “old money” sound to it that fit her and her situation too.


Next comes the physical description. Roxanne has to have a boyish figure in order to pull off the charade at the construction site. She’s fair, has shoulder-length ash blonde hair and green eyes.


Then I needed to establish some character traits that would make Roxanne who she is and/or who she will become by the end of the story. She’s a spunky, loving mother who is a tad paranoid.  Her greed brought her to the point she is today (when the story begins), and she’s determined not to make any more mistakes—especially where her daughter is concerned.


 Jay Andropoulis from Photo Finish


Jay is a secondary character. I gave him the first name “Jay” because 1) it’s not complicated, 2) I wanted to Americanize him a bit, and 3) since he’s filthy rich, I wanted to create a little “initial recognition.” (J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, etc.) 


Since Jay is Greek, I listened to Greek language tapes in order to get a feel for the cadence of the language. I also gleaned some words Jay could use to give credibility to the nationality of his character. For example, he calls the heroine “oraia” throughout the book. “Oraia” means “beautiful.”


As a secondary character, Jay didn’t need an extensive character sketch. I did have fun with him, though, and made him gorgeous and accomplished in business as well as the arts (classical piano) so he could be a good foil for the two major male characters who are “regular guys.”


Julia Weatherly from Anything For A Buck


Julia is Roxanne’s two-year-old daughter. If you aren’t around children very much, I suggest you tread carefully here. This is one area where writing what you know is crucial. If a child is vital to your plot but you’re still treading on unfamiliar ground, have a friend or critique partner who has children read the first draft of your manuscript for accuracy concerning the child’s speech and actions.


In physical appearance, Julia is a lot like a miniature version of her mother. In temperament, she rides that emotional roller coaster that comes with being a two-year-old. In one scene (where Roxanne is picking Julia up from day care), I describe Julia like this: “She [Roxanne] opened her arms wide and braced herself as a thirty-pound bullet in a pink romper crashed against her chest.”  I took this incident directly from experience.

Learn more about THE PORTABLE WRITERS’ WORKSHOP at http://www.gayletrent.com/about-the-author/writing-book/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *