Writing exercise 5: Focusing on detail – part 1

[This was meant to draw on the notes we made in our notebook as well as adding detail to the character sketch from the previous exercise. I ended up tweaking the character sketch mildly and writing something completely new. This is the former.]

There he stood, his back straight before the raging sea. The wind slapped violently at his white attire – white trousers, white shirt. White was a brave choice for going outdoors, especially near sand and dirt; it could just get dirty so easily. However, this particular individual had nothing to worry about; the stark white of his shirt was dotted with various brown and multi-coloured stains. Clearly there was no concern over keeping the white immaculate as the day it was made.

The bright fabric struck a harsh contrast with the olive darkness of his skin, although it successfully matched the streaks of grey-white in his receding hairline. From behind, it seemed he was of trim build, so nothing prepared the eye for the bulge that was his belly.

Beady brown eyes narrowed as he squinted against the brightness of the sun. They disappeared into the creases of his round face along with gleaming beads of sweat, their existence only remembered by the two grey eyebrows perched above them.

Smoke formed from the remains of a dying cigarette in his mouth, barely visible underneath a scruffy moustache. As he yawned, the cigarette butt drooped a little but stayed in place. It seemed permanently attached to his lower lip. Even as he spat out phlegm for the fish to feast on, it only twitched slightly, like a quivering compass needle.

He held a battered fishing rod in one podgy hand, while the other was attached to a shiny green beer can. Bringing it to his mouth, he gulped its contents down hungrily, crushed the empty can, burped, and tossed it indifferently by his feet. As he bent down to reach for another, his breathing became a heavy grunting, which gave way to a bout of coughing.

Still, mission accomplished: his hand closed around another beer. He plonked himself on the ground, deciding it was time to sit down. As his belly wobbled, he let out a weighty, existential sigh. Even his own body constantly reminded him he was a disappointment. Yet he’d given up caring.

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