Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Can We Guess Your Character's Age? Blogfest Contest Entry

The winners have been announced and I am happy to report that I received an Honorable Mention for my entry.  Yay!  It always feels great to be mentioned honorably.  I can tell you now that Warren is 19 years old. Congratulations to all of you who guessed so close!  Read the winning entries here.

Welcome all!  Here is my entry for the Can We Guess Your Character's Age? Blogfest Contest hosted by the wonderful Brenda Drake.  Thank you for the opportunity!  I welcome age guessing and would also appreciate  any other feedback that comes to mind.


         Warren’s mother had taped towels and sheets over all the windows of the apartment where she had raised him.  Ah…coming home.  His mother suffered from what his brother called, “severe eccentricity,” and blacking out the living room window with Warren’s ratty old Star Wars comforter was not out of character.  He loved her more than anything, but if she had called him because she had forgotten how to use the washing machine again, he was heading right back to campus to enjoy the day after finals the way it was intended to be enjoyed - drunk and poolside.
She stood in the kitchen holding a box of uncooked spaghetti and didn’t respond to his presence right away.  It looked like she had been holding and squeezing the box for a while and most of the pasta inside was broken.  Age had taken her overnight.  The wrinkle between her eyes was deeper and a few more strands of gray had found their way into her waist length black hair.  Warren took the box of spaghetti out of her hands.
“I was going to make you lunch,” she said.
            “I’m not hungry,” Warren said.
            The two Red Bulls in Warren’s hung over and now scared stomach were not sitting well. 
            “What’s wrong?” he asked.
Please don’t say cancer.  At six foot five, Warren wasn’t exactly a kid anymore and he hadn’t been sung to sleep in a long time, but losing his mama still felt like the worst thing that could possibly happen. 


  1. Hi Sharon,

    I'm going to guess 25, since he's moved out but still seems really close to her.

    As for my critique:
    You have a whole lot of interesting things going on. I like the crazy insanity that is his mom, and I like that he obviously cares about her.

    I think your first sentence could be stronger if it was active. Something like "As Warren stepped into the apartment it took his eyes a minute to adjust to the false night my mother created by duct-taping bath towels and bed sheets over every window. Ah, home sweet home." Except waaay better :).

    I also think "He loved her more than anything" is telling. Consider rearranging it so its clear that it's a thought instead. Also consider more of a segue to explain why he'd think she needs his help with the washer.

    I love the sentence "Age had taken her overnight," but I think you need to show his shock at seeing her that way first, so the reader knows he saw something he wasn't expecting.

    Also, it seems a bit odd that he didn't say something like "Mom, is everything alright?" but just took the spaghetti out her hands. That might just be because I don't know the characters.

    Overall, very interesting set up! Good luck!

  2. I'm going to go with 30 for this one--all the hints say he's been out of the house for a while, but not so long that he's forgotten what it was like.

  3. I'm going to say mid-twenties because of the red bull and hang over reference. I love the insanity set up with William's mom--nicely done. I agree with swiftscribbler that you should make the first sentence a bit more active. I like her idea, but rather than taper paper towels, use the image of the Star Wars comforter. It's more interesting and gives the reader an instant image.
    Good job and good luck!

  4. I'm guessing mid to late 20's. And I think you could make the first sentence stronger by making it active. But I don't agree with all of the suggestions made by SwiftScribbler. I thinks it's a very nice beginning.

  5. I don't know if this counts as cheating or "editing" but I made a change to hopefully get the age guesses more on track. So, try not to read the comments above because they were based on an earlier version - although I know you will ;). I am testing this new version to see whether or not it's the voice or the lack of other cues that's getting the age wrong. Thank you for your help!!!

  6. I wanna say 19. My hubby still has his star wars bedspread, lol. He won't let our kids sleep on it either!

    I really like the voice you got here, and are you sure this is 250 words? I think you're under and I need to read the next paragraph...or twenty :)

  7. I'd guess 28? He sounds like he has lived some but still has a lot of growing up to do :)

  8. I want to say twenty. But she still has his room decked out like a kid, so he's probably in his first semester in college. Then that would be 18-19. I'll say...19 =)

  9. This is hard. I think it sounds like older YA so I think he might be just 20.

  10. He sounds like he's in his first few years of college or university, but his mother sounds much older, even without the reference to aging overnight (mostly as it sounds like she might have Alzheimer's).

    So my guess would have to be about 25, possibly as old as 28.

  11. I'm guessing 21 since he's away at college and looking forward to finals and partying :) I loved how you wrote his emotions at the end there, very nicely done!

  12. I'm guessing 20. His mom could seem old because she's sick, or maybe she was just older when she had him. It reads dark but with room for some hope--poor guy!--seems like a nice prelude to something interesting coming up.

  13. My guess is 19. I'm so sad! It's a great start! I'm intrigued. :)

  14. the height makes me think around 18

  15. I am going to go with 20 due to the finals and campus reference. He's drinking, but I doubt he is 21 yet just because it gets old by then. I loved the Star Wars comforter reference. Books about mental illness are one of my things, too, so I'd love to read it all.

  16. Hey, still trying to get around to everyone's blog even though the contest is over. Great piece! I'd say 19?

    P.S. Cool blog. New follower alert.