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Saturday, 9 June 2018

People session 8

 The person in the possessions                                                Describe a person by talking about their possessions

Possessions tell us about people.  There are obvious dramatic things to with wealth.  A wealthy person is ‘expressed’ by the design of their yacht or private jet, or by the cut of their expensive (usually) clothes.    But all of us are expressed by our possessions, and often the more humble is more interesting, especially if you  think of loved ones -  dad’s old battered hat, his fountain pen,  his model ship, his favourite cup.    We think of such things, often, when we think of someone now dead.  

Describing possessions is valuable in giving atmosphere to a piece of writing, and also hinting a character and age.  George’s treasured paintbrush which once belonged to Van Gogh.   You can also use possessions as symbols for ideas.   Your husband’s favourite viper.  Your wife’s statue of a weeping angel.

You could approach describing a person’s possessions (some of them, that is) by creating a situation in which:

·         The writer or a character is alone in someone else’s house waiting for them and looking round.  Could be a friend or complete stranger. Might sneak into the bedroom or study.

·         A researcher is looking (as in a museum) at surviving possessions of a person.  Could be doing with this a son or daughter of the person who can give anecdotes about the things.   “He always used to put this on his head when he was drunk.”

·         A detective checking the house of a person who’s been found dead, or who has gone wild in the street and broken windows.  Finds an unexpected collection of.  .  . 

·         A thief  (perhaps two thieves chatting), who may be looking for a particular object, or just sifting through to see if there’s anything valuable.

·          Paparazzo who’s heard rumours something scandalous about the person.  

·          A suspicious spouse in the wife/husband’s room when they’re out or asleep.  Pockets, handbags,  attic,  desk

·         Yourself in a dream going back to your childhood room.   Just describe all the things there and we’ll know you!    I can see (and this is just a list) a small dinky toy aeroplane which Father Christmas brought me and left at the side of my bed,  several wartime planes I’ve carved and then hung from the ceiling on cotton so that they’re ‘flying’.  There  are some luminous china rabbits on the dressing table, and a copy of The Children of Cherry Tree Farm for Dad to read at bedtime. Aircraft recognition books. A penknife. Grandma’s opera glasses used as field glasses to see planes.  ‘My’ dog George sleeping under the bed. A Spitfire diagram on the wall. 

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