“Is there anything, apart from a really good chocolate cream pie and receiving a large unexpected cheque in the post, to beat finding yourself at large in a foreign city on a fair spring evening, loafing along unfamiliar streets in the long shadows of a lazy sunset, pausing to gaze in shop windows or at some church or lovely square or tranquil stretch of quayside, hesitating at street corners to decide whether that cheerful and homy restaurant you will remember fondly for years is likely to lie down this street or that one? I just love it. I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city.”—Bill Bryson, Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe (via coffee-and-adventure-cravings)
“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”—Maya Angelou (via aclockworkorange)
Write a brief character sketch, around 300–500 words, in which you reveal certain aspects of the character. Use a third-person narrator (‘he’ or ‘she’).
The guy is in his forty, tall and solid, he has a bright smile with perfect teeth. His hairs are perfectly cut and he is slightly tanned like he’s coming back from a week on a tropical island in the middle of winter.
Julien has worked a lot his ‘perfect’ style, he’s wearing the last Armani suit and an expensive watch and some luxurious leather shoes.
When he enters a room, all the attention is drawing on him and that the purpose of his work. Since he is running for the mayor seat of one of the most famous city in world.
For a long time, he has wanted to work in politics; he was fascinated by those people who were in charge of his country. So after finishing Law school, he entered the party he felt like he could make his place. It wasn’t really the position of the party but the chance to become a candidate who makes him choose the right-wing side.
Piece by piece he has composed a perfect candidate, he became the third associate of the law office where he did his last year of university then he married a pretty girl he has meet in Law school but he makes it sure she wasn’t going to work too much by having three kids. He bought a flat in the city and a nice house, two cars and some piece of art. He wanted to incarnate the successful guy but not too much so he won’t inspire only jealousy.
He didn’t sleep with a secretary like most of his coworkers; he knew that he had to be clean for any press investigation when he becomes a candidate.
And now, the day before his crowning moment, the only thing he thinks about is his father. The bastard he can’t hide. His murderous father, even if the old guy is now out of prison and slowly dying in a retirement home, he knows that one day or another it will come back to the surface. He is surprised and anxious that it is not already done. When he should savor his glory he is just filled with anger.
Le type est dans sa quarantaine, grand et massif, il a un sourire éclatant avec des dents parfaites . Ses cheveux sont parfaitement coupés et il est légèrement bronzé comme s’il venait de passer une semaine sur une île tropicale au beau milieu de l’hiver . Julien a beaucoup travaillé son style «parfait», il porte le dernier costume Armani, une montre de luxe et des chaussures en cuir précieux. Quand il entre dans une pièce, toute l’attention se porte sur lui et c’est bien le but de tout ce travail. Depuis qu’il est en course pour le siège de maire d’une des villes les plus célèbres au monde . Pendant longtemps, il a voulu faire de la politique. Il était fasciné par ces hommes en charge de son pays . Après avoir terminé ses études de droit, il a rejoint le parti dans lequel il pressentait qu’il pourrait se faire une place. Ce n’était pas vraiment la position politique du parti, mais ses chances de devenir un candidat qui lui firent choisir la droite. Petit à petit, il a construit le candidat idéal. Il est devenu le troisième associé du cabinet d’avocats où il avait fait sa dernière année à l’université, puis il a épousé une jolie fille rencontrée dans sa fac de droit tout en faisant en sorte qu’elle soit trop occupée par trois enfants pour travailler. Il a acheté un appartement en ville et une belle maison à l’extérieur, deux voitures et quelques œuvres d’art . Il voulait incarner le mec qui réussit mais sans en abuser afin de ne pas inspirer uniquement de la jalousie . Il n’a pas couché avec une de ses secrétaires comme la plupart de ses collègues; il savait qu’il devrait être clean quand les journalistes se pointeraient à l’annonce de sa candidature. Et maintenant, à la veille de sa consécration, la seule chose à laquelle il pense est son père. Ce salaud qu’il ne peut pas cacher. Son père le meurtrier. Même si le vieux, sorti de prison, est en train de crever dans une maison de retraite, il sait qu’un jour ou l’autre, il va refaire surface. Il est surpris et inquiet que ce ne soit pas déjà fait. Alors qu’il devrait savourer sa gloire, le voilà ruminant sa colère.
Write a brief scene, around 300–500 words, in your notebook, in which you portray a character in a complex way, going against the usual expectations for such a character.
EN (321 words)
Michelle lives in the country , rather sparingly, she is the owner of what some would call a cabin . She bought her little house when she arrives in the village many years ago. It’s more located outside the village . Michelle is a potter, she makes bowls, pots and vases. She sells her production in the markets of the region and to passing tourists. She lives alone with a dog, an old Labrador who belonged to one of her friend who died a few years ago . She is in her sixties and she is a somewhat neglected but you can easily picture her as nice when she was younger . Medium size, her brown hair mixed with gray are often tied with a pencil in a loose bun, she has green eyes hidden by an old pair of glasses, she put on weight with age, but its size remains thin and her face is soft. She is not a wild loner, she’s nice, a little shy, people like her and she is regularly invited to dinner. Neighbors enjoy her company and often try to get her to talk about her past, but she remains elusive evoking the stereotype of the urban folk who desires campaign. Winters are long in the countryside. One day, a small city car arrives in the village, in the month of February and tourists are rare at this time where everything is frozen. A young man is driving the car, and suddenly it comes crashing down on the pillar of the entrance to the village. The shock is violent enough that he fainted with an head injury . Michelle, who were talking with the baker and other residents, is heading toward the car. To the astonishment of her neighbors, without panicking she practice first aid while intimating livid viewers to call for help. She says softly that in another life, she was an emergency medic.
Michelle vit à la campagne, plutôt chichement, elle est propriétaire de ce que certains qualifieraient une cabane. Sa petite maison, elle l’a acheté à son installation dans le village ou plutôt à la sortie du village.
Michelle est potière, elle fabrique des bols, des pots et des vases. Elle les vend sur les marchés de la région et aux touristes de passage.
Elle vit seul avec un chien, un vieux labrador qui appartenait à un de ces amis décédé quelques années auparavant. La soixantaine, c’est une femme un peu négligée dont on pressent qu’elle fut plutôt jolie étant jeune. De taille moyenne, ces cheveux bruns mêlés de gris sont souvent noués en chignon lâche un crayon le maintenant, elle a des yeux verts dissimulés par une vielle paire de lunettes en écailles, elle a forci avec l’âge mais sa taille reste mince et ses traits doux.
Ce n’est pas une sauvage, elle est gentille, un peu timide, les gens l’aime bien et elle est régulièrement invitée à diner. Ses voisins apprécient sa compagnie et tentent souvent de la faire parler sur son passé, mais celle-ci reste évasive évoquant le cliché de l’urbain qui avait des envies de campagne.
Les hivers sont longs dans la campagne.
Un jour, une petite voiture citadine arrive au village, c’est au mois de février et les touristes sont rares à cette période où tout est gelé.
C’est un jeune homme qui la conduit, dans un coup de volant malheureux, il vient s’écraser sur le pilier de l’entrée du village. Le choc est suffisamment violent pour qu’il s’évanouisse blessé à la tête. Michelle, qui discutait avec le boulanger et d’autres habitants, fonce vers la voiture.
A l’étonnement de ses voisins, celle-ci sans paniquer pratique les gestes de premiers secours tout en intimant aux spectateurs livides d’appeler les secours. Elle explique d’une voix douce que dans une autre vie, elle était médecin urgentiste.
Salut! J'adore votre blog, c'est très chic! Je suis anglais mais un de ces quatre je voudrais déménager à Paris, et votre photos du Paris et Monmartre sont formidables :-) J'aime que vous parlez en français et en anglais sur le blog aussi! (désolé pour le mauvais français aussi...!)
Tu écris très bien le français !
Paris is not far from London with Eurostar, I hope you can make your dream come true.. Maybe with an Erasmus :-)
Il est 17h30, à l’entrée du magnifique parc Monceau, un type la quarantaine, costume noir impeccable, se presse pour y entrer. Il tient un énorme sac KFC, probablement rempli de ces morceaux de poulets frits et graisseux. Il est de taille moyenne, le teint plutôt mat, les cheveux noirs, il est loin d’être mince mais on ne le qualifierait pas de gros, il mange bien peut-on supposer.
Il vient d’éliminer une cible dans un hôtel luxueux et ressent un urgent besoin de junk food après chaque mission accomplie. Il jeûne toujours 3 jours lorsqu’il travaille sur ce type de contrat, l’estomac vide il se sent plus alerte. Et quelle satisfaction d’engloutir un double menu tout en contrôlant avec son smartphone le versement de sa solde sur son compte en banque à Hong-Kong.
It is 5:30 pm at the entrance to the beautiful Parc Monceau, a guy in his forty with an impeccable black suit, is rushing in. He carries a huge KFC bag, probably filled with these pieces of fried greasy chicken. Medium size, dark complexion, black hair, he is far from thin but we cannot qualify him fat, we can assume he is a big eater.
He just eliminate a target in a luxurious hotel and he feels an urgent need for junk food after each mission accomplished. He is always fasting three days when working on this type of contract, on an empty stomach he feels more alert. And it is so satisfying to swallow a double deal while controlling with his smartphone the payment on his Hong-Kong bank account.
When I took my shift that morning, Hakim was late. It’s been two years we’ve been working together and it was the first time. He showed-up two hours later, he was pale and sweating. He ran at me looking very angry and took a gun from inside his coat. I tried to talk to him but he was mumbling in Arabic so I couldn’t understand him.
The Café was empty. I was terrified. Then, without even looking at me, he shot me.
I was lying on the floor wondering how I get there and a flashing pain reminded me that I have been shot. I heard the door bell rang and a loud cry, I tried to look upon but I did not move. A second later, a woman was looking down at me, she was typing on her phone.
“Are you okay, Sir? I am calling the Emergency”
I used my last strength to thank her then I’ve blacked-out.
When I woke up I was on an ambulance. Two ER guy were activating around me, they did not noticed I was awaken. I closed my eyes and thought about Hakim and why my friend would shot me? There weren’t any logical explanations.
Turn on the radio and take note of the first thing that is mentioned. Use it as the basis for a story of no more than 500 words.
(I can’t believe that I actually wrote 519 words from “newly European taxes on financial transactions”)
That mid-morning, he was preparing one of his meeting subjects that were about the newly European taxes on financial transactions. It was a cold Tuesday for May and he shivered a little when watching through the windows he saw the wind moving the trees branches like waves in the profound ocean. He took his mug of coffee but it was already cold, so he decided to take a break and go for a hot coffee.
He stood up and stretched, he was numb after two hours typing on his computer. When he opened the door of his office, he realized that a lot of the desk staff had arrived. He liked to come very early at work knowing he won’t be bothered for at least 3 hours. Everyone came and saluted him politely. He nodded with a smile showing his mug so people will understand that he was out for a refill of coffee.
He looked at himself in the glass door of the desk kitchen and thought he was aging slowly but surely. His hairs were showing some gray upon his ears and in his 2 days beard. He was wearing a classical dark navy-blue suit from Ralph Lauren that he knew was accentuating his lightly brownish skin complexion. His skin and the dark hair were a gift from his Spanish mother in a land where most of the people were blondish pale and women always liked it and men sometimes too.
He opened the door to see Julie activating around the coffee pot, she was wearing a lavender silk dress that were enough close-fitting to perceive the lace lingerie behind it. As he tried to not stare she smiled at him and proposed to refill his mug by handing the coffee to him.
“Hello David, how are you today? You arrived early again?”
“Julie, hi, yes around seven”
She smiled again and he could smell her perfume, he guessed that it probably was an expensive brand like Chanel but he preferred the odor of her shampoo emanating from her long light brown hair.
“Have a good day David” she said aloud with her clear voice while she left the kitchen.
He mumbled at his mug trying to not look at her butt. After twenty years in the finance, he knew that sex was easy but highly dangerous, he had seen at least three good managers losing their position for harassment case that were sometimes traps from others financial groups.
He got back to his office and looked at his wife and the two girls smiling brightly at him. The picture was from three years ago, just before when Marie the older one left for University. It has been a long time since he had intimacy with Lauren, they barely talk and he was guessing that she will leave home when Rose will go to University at the end of the year. He couldn’t blame her. He spent so much time at work and when he was at home it was for spending more hours on his computer. He always took time for his girls but there wasn’t enough left for Lauren.
Try describing something familiar with one or two ordinary words that you wouldn’t normally use in that context. Share your example in the comments.
When I entered the rooftop, it was both dark and yellow bright and my eyes had a hard time to focus. The sky was noisy and boiling, full of clouds, of different shapes and size. It felt like I would be absorbed by the immensity so I needed to sit for a moment. I felt the hard gravel under my hand it was reassuring.
I’m gonna write also in French since I am following a MOOC in French too. I hope you won’t be bothered.
Je vais utiliser ma plume en français pour le MOOC que je suis grace à France Université Numérique intitulé : “Création, publication et partage sur Internet”. Vous pourrez donc me lire en anglais et en français ici.
Developing your powers of observation and including a high level of detail can affect your writing style – for the better.
Try to add to your notes and sketch, making your observations as detailed as possible. Think back to the person you observed and see if you can remember more precise details about that person.
The girl was in her mid-twenties standing at the entrance of a second-hand bookstore, she was looking carefully at the 1€ tray like it was some precious jewelry. She was some sort of pretty stray girl with long chestnut-brown dread-locks and cheap clothing, she looked both very tired and excited while scrolling through the books with her long fingers and her bitten nails.
Around her arm, she had multiples prayers bracelets with large wooden beads and it was clinking against the tray. She also have one of the beads attached in her hair, a figure was engraved and I recall the sign as a Buddhist Om. She probably practiced some yoga, her slight muscle structure could be an indication.
At a moment, she stopped, she picked a very damaged book and for a second I could swear her green eyes were glowing. She put a light smile on her lips who were painted in a light pink and she took the book to the cashier, I realise that I was staring at her and wondered how she did not notice me. I couldn’t help but follow her, I took a random book in the same tray and got to the cashier.
As I stood behind her there was a slight perfume a blended smell of cinnamon and those incense you can find in hippies store. While she was waiting for the cashier who was arranging a pile of old books, she was slowly swaying from one foot to the other like she was trying to handle her excitation. She was wearing an old pair of burgundy-coloured Doc Martens and I remembered that I used to wear one pair of these.
Imagine two different venues for writing – one that seems most suited to you, and one that you would find bizarre or too difficult. Write a paragraph describing two writers at work, one in each of the venues.
It is a typical Sunday afternoon in the house, the kids came for lunch with their own kids who are now playing in the back garden when grown-up are enjoying a coffee or a tea, some of them put a pinch of bourbon in the coffee for the occasion. The old man is sitting in the corner of the main room in a comfy old chair and he is writing, here, with all his family babbling around. It is noisy but pleasant for him, he likes to ear the bit of conversations, his grandkids laughing and screaming while he is taking notes on his notebook computer that his oldest son had offered him for his 60th birthday, two years ago.
The tea shop was quiet on this Monday afternoon, it was a cosy place where you could buy homemade tea and cakes to go but also enjoy them in the back of the shop where they were few chairs, three tables and a sofa, a few books from the personal collection of the owner and magazines. The girl was writing in what seems to be a diary that she have decorated with stickers and masking-tapes, she was sitting near the windows and sipping a cup of tea. She was listening to the quiet music the owner had put, it was probably one of those relaxing compilation for spa or yoga.
Write a short character sketch – no more than 200 words – in which you concentrate on appearance and any particular mannerisms you noted.
The girl was in her mid-twenties standing at the entrance of a second-hand bookstore, she was looking carefully at the 1€ tray like it was some precious jewellery. She was some sort of pretty stray girl with long chestnut-brown dread-locks and cheap clothing, she looked both very tired and excited while scrolling through the books with her long fingers and her bitten nails. At a moment, she stopped, she picked a very damaged book and for a second I could swear her eyes were glowing. She put a light smile on her lips and took the book to the cashier, I realise that I was staring at her and wondered how she did not notice me. I couldn’t help but follow her, I took a random book in the same tray and got to the cashier. As I stood behind her there was a slight perfume a blend of cinnamon and those incense you can find in hippies store. While she was waiting for the cashier who was arranging a pile of old books, she was slowly swaying from one foot to the other like she was trying to handle her excitation. She was wearing an old pair of burgundy-coloured Doc Martens and I remembered that I used to wear one pair of these.
Write a paragraph (50 to 100 words) containing one fact and three fictitious elements.
You can write about yourself, about your interests, about history – about anything you like. Then try the reverse – write a paragraph containing three facts and one fictitious element.
My great aunt lives in a little Castle in Normandie, in France, it’s not uncommon to have a mansion in your family but a castle. I known for a fact that she was a successful self-made woman and wondered why she would buy a castle, I once asked her and she told me : “When people gets rich they buy fancy cars or boats, they buy jewellery and designer’s clothes, I just wanted a great place for my family”. And what a place, I’ve spent so many summers pretending I was a princess running in the garden and hiding in the secret rooms.
There was a cat named Rasta, he was an ordinary cat but he was the best cat ever. He was so smart that he knew how to open door and the fridge. And he was a hunter. He commonly came home with little gift for us, like a mouse or a little bird and he once came home with a chicken, a real living chicken, well, the poor thing was dead. He must be thinking that we weren’t great hunters. When our father died, he used to wait for him behind the house’s door every evening, it was both moving and sad because how to explain to a cat that his favourite person in the world will never come back ?