Posted by: victanguera | February 13, 2010

Pen Olympics First Exercise

The first heat of the Pen Olympics is up on edittorrent. Here is the exercise:

Choose a character you would like to know better. If your character/subject could meet anyone in history, living or dead, who would they choose to meet?

Now here’s the twist. Imagine your character/subject through the eyes of this historical person. From the POV of this historical person, write a short piece describing the character/subject and what it was like to be interviewed by that character/subject. How did the character/subject behave in the presence of such an important person?

Did you learn anything new about your character or subject? Did you find it difficult to look at your character or subject through a different lens?

And here is what came out of it:

I pushed the hood back from my face and surveyed the dandy before me. They were always the easiest to fleece, so full of themselves, they didn’t notice me play a confidence game. A smile played across his lips as he stepped from the interior of the ornate carriage. He pulled at the lace at his wrist, covering carefully manicured fingers. I was glad leather gloves covered my own rough fingertips. He clasped his hands and surveyed the band at my back. His eyes glittered with something—possibly the amusement reflected on his lips. I wanted to believe my reputation had preceded me and he felt some fear.

At a small movement of my head, Little John notched an arrow. Without turning to look, I knew his aim would hold unwavering, pointed directly at the man’s forehead.

“I have nothing in my luggage,” the fellow said. Unlike others I’d robbed, he didn’t flinch under the threat of an arrow between his eyes. “But I know where you can find a large stash. Possibly enough for you and your band of…” He raised an eyebrow and the corner of one lip twitched. “Perhaps merry men.”

Tuck growled deep in his throat. I checked him with one hand before he could attack.

“Pretty word from a pretty boy.” I circled him. “Have you more lace in your ‘stash’?” I flicked the lace at his wrist. “A ribbon for your hair?” I undid the ribbon holding the long braid in place. “Maybe another well cut coat.” I rubbed the tail of his coat between finger and thumb even though my gloved appendage couldn’t feel the cloth.

His full smile showed perfectly spaced white teeth. “Gold. But if you aren’t interested.” He held up one hand, crooked his fingertips and examined the nails. He continued to stare at them, even as the string of John’s bow hummed from the extra tension applied. Even as I stuck my face so close to him that I could smell fennel on his breath, powder, clean skin. Disgusted, I turned away.

“If you don’t believe me, search my things, let me on my way.” He stopped examining his nails, once again casually held one wrist.

“Already done.” Marion stepped from behind the wagon, codpiece dangling over one fingertip. “It’s pretty much empty.”

“I see that,” I muttered.

“Ah, the pretty Maid Marion.” The dandy took her hand, lifted it to his lips. “May I?” He looked not at me for affirmation, but watched her eyes until she nodded. A blush stained her cheeks.

Bastard. Reaching into my quiver, I pulled out an arrow, notching it in to place. “This gold. Is it far?”

I drew the string back, but held the arrow pointed to the ground. I could have the bolt in his eye before he twitched.

“Walking distance.” He held up one arm. Marion slipped her hand through the crook of his arm, matching his long strides as he set off through the bush. The bush?

I made the call of the whippoorwill, and Marion cocked her head to one side. She kept it there, though, almost as if the dandy whispered words to her as they walked. Following close behind them, I heard nothing but the rustling of leaves under our feet, wind soughing through the trees. And a responding whippoorwill in the bush. It was my turn to smile.

My pleasure didn’t last. We stood at the entrance to a cave covered trailing vines. Vines Friar Tuck carefully tended. I blinked, mopped at my sweat-soaked brow with one gloved fist. We had not walked this far. Nor in this direction. I would have noticed. Beside me, Marion no longer held the arm of the dandy. He’d disappeared. Inside, nothing remained. Our hoarded stash was gone. Completely gone.

What did I learn about Niall? He is even more arrogant than I thought. I discovered that you can’t trick a trickster (but this isn’t that surprising). I discovered Niall engineered the meeting to find out if there were any tricks⁄techniques he might be missing in the thievery department. And that’s why he used Riona.

I also discovered this is very useful. Now to figure out who Riona would meet and what happens in their encounter. I might do this exercise for all my characters. Oh, and I discovered this means I’ve decided to readdress the leprechaun story. Cool.


  1. Glad you found it useful! I think that looking at our character through other eyes often results in us seeing new things. 🙂

    • Yes, so true. I’m working on the other exercise about the most romantic gift. This is trickier as the two used to have a relationship. This might give me a usable scene as well. Will post when I have something.

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