Finding Liza

I’m nearing the end of my first week of Teachers Write, and the most challenging part of it is just being able to find time to write. I’m working during the day, so I feel like I’m constantly behind, since I haven’t been writing consistently in the evenings. Today, since I have the day off, I’m catching up with some of the prompts from this week. The writing that came from Thursday’s prompt (see my writing below) is about finding a character’s voice, by exploring that character in different situations. I wrote many of the chunks below in a very short time frame, which is why they’re not fully developed, but this did help me think about the characters I’m trying to create. Caution: SUPER rough! If you want to see the prompts, you can check here: Teachers Write.

Visualization through a door (2 minutes):

The bright June sun makes Liza’s body a silhouette as she walks carefully through the door. She steps tentatively across the threshold, and the other girls stare at her, their new housemate (at least for a few months).

Wearing a light blue sleeveless maternity frock that skims her four-month pregnant belly makes her look like an even younger version of a pregnant Audrey Hepburn.

Moving into the room (2 minutes):

Liza moves forward looking at all the wide-eyed girls, guessing that most of them are close to her age: 17. Frilly home accessories fill the room–curtains, pillows, lampshades. They betray the reality of what this place really is: a home where girls come to give away their children.

Meeting other people (4 minutes):

Mrs. Johnson greens Liza first.

“Hello, dear, and welcome to Fairview. You are making such a loving decision for your unborn baby. You are doing God’s will. Bless you.”

The rising nausea Liza felt made Mrs. Johnson’s words sound far away and muffled. She wanted to turn and run, hide at her sister’s nearby home, have her baby, and disappear forever.

Interviewing your character:

What do you love the most? My unborn baby

What do you hate the most? My parents for making me come here

Who are you jealous of? The “loving couple” that will get to see my child grow into an adult

If you could do anything right now, what would it be? Run away. Live alone. Raise my child by myself.

What is your biggest secret? I’m pregnant at 17. It’s a secret I’ll never be able to tell when I return to my normal life.

Interviewing your character’s after an opposite ray hits him/her:

What do you love the most? Power. Control.

What do you hate the most? Children.

Who are you jealous of? Chairman Mao.

If you could do anything right now, what would it be? Stage a revolution and rule the world.

Stripping away the emotion of a scene (Scene: Liza’s book)

Susan opens the door so that it hits Liza’s wall.

“What are you doing?” She sees the book on Liza’s stomach and assumes she’s been reading.

“Why do you read?”

“Helps pass the time,” Liza replies.

Susan sits on the bed and picks up Liza’s book. Ramona the Brave? Why not Carrie? Liza shrugs.

Susan gets up and walks out, letting the door swing shut behind her.

My Reflection

This one was challenging–first of all, because of the time limit. Two minutes is not enough time at all! Neither is four! I think it’s because I’m constantly second-guessing my choices as a writer. That certainly takes time.

Oddly enough, one of my favorite parts of this was interviewing my character who had been hit by an “opposite ray.” I discovered that the opposite of loving and nurturing children might be the idea of power, yet I think Liza does wants some power and control because at this point, she has none. She has been sent away from her home by her parents to have a baby in a strange city. When the baby comes, she will have no choice but to say goodbye to it and never look back. She does want to control this situation, but she can’t. It feels like this opposite-ray version of Liza could become hardened as a result of her experience and truly hate children when she’s older.

Then I was intrigued by this person who hates children but has a secret–that she’s pregnant. Wouldn’t that be a bit of a twist! It would test the character and possibly change her. I’m sort of fascinated in this tension. I want to determine how to add some of this tension into Liza’s character.


One thought on “Finding Liza

  1. I too was fascinated in the opposite perspective and the tension that would evolve from that. Another character, perhaps? I am also intrigued with the book choice. Carrie? Perhaps Susan is the perfect counterbalance to Liza’s gentle nature and powerlessness. Susan could be in the same situation, yet has made the decision herself (acting on her power). Hmmm… I want more. Be sure to alert me when you go back to this.

    As for the exercises in general, I thought it was REALLY tough to do anything in 2 minutes, but it sure makes you boil it down to the basics. I’m sure that I will use this in my class. Good stuff.


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