Donna, the soldier’s wife

This is an activity from the A215 Creative Writing Course that I’m doing with the OU. It involves creating a backstory in relation to a character, followed by creating a passage of dialogue involving that character. The final part involves combining the backstory and dialogue (showing and telling) to produce a single narrative (Activity 9.9).

Part A: Use the character that you created in Activity 9.2 and write a paragraph in summary of their backstory and key elements about them.

Donna Bennett is the wife of Sergeant John Bennett, a bomb disposal technician in the 33 Engineer Regiment, whose unenviable task over the past month has been to clear incendiary devices in the Afghan Civil War.

Like many of the soldiers’ wives living at Carver Barracks, Saffron Walden, the 32 year-old, auburn haired, buxom Donna is thankful for the caring support offered by the other wives who also have loved ones fighting in Afghanistan. Today, Donna is particularly anxious. The constant feeling of helplessness and worrying if he is going to come back alive and uninjured is way too much to bear. There is something really important that she needs to tell him. As she contemplates John’s whereabouts, she fights against the negative thoughts that are attempting to enter her psyche, and reminds herself that no news is good news. After all, it’s only been a few days since he last phoned.

Part B: Write a page of dialogue involving the character (using up to 200 words). Try to create a subtext, an atmosphere or some implied information for your reader, beyond what the words of the dialogue explicitly say.

Donna decides that dwelling on negatives thoughts won’t make anyone feel better, and given her situation, that’s the last thing that she needs.

Out of nowhere a cool breeze blows in through the open window, carrying with it the scent of canteen food, which instantly makes Donna hold her hand to her mouth and rush into the bathroom. As she swills with mouthwash, a voice shouts, ‘Let me in Donna. It’s me, Gemma.’

‘I’m coming, hang on a minute.’

‘What took you so long? I’ve been knocking for ages,’ says Gemma.

‘Sorry! I was in the bathroom. Besides, I’ve been distracted since coming back from the Doctor’s, yesterday.’

‘Nothing serious I hope?’

‘Oh, no, nothing to worry about. I’ve not been feeling well, lately. I needed to get the okay from the doc.’

‘Are you sure it’s nothing serious?’ says Gemma, as she pays close attention to Donna’s every word.

‘It’s nothing life threatening. The doctor advised me to discuss it with John first, seeing as he is partly responsible.’

‘Ah ah,’ says Gemma, as she knowingly grins at Donna.

‘Is is that obvious?’

Donna suddenly feels tired and hopes that her friend doesn’t stay too long.

Part C: Combine the two passages, so the backstory and dialogue are mixed. Try to drip-feed the backstory into the narrative, so it doesn’t all come at once.

Donna is the wife of Sergeant John Bennett, a bomb disposal technician in the 33 Engineer Regiment, whose unenviable task over the past month has been to clear incendiary devices in the Afghan Civil War.

Today, Donna is particularly anxious. The constant worrying if he is going to come back alive and uninjured is way too much to bear, but she decides that negatives thoughts won’t make anyone feel better, especially given her condition.

Out of nowhere a cool breeze blows in through the open window, carrying with it the scent of canteen food, which instantly makes Donna hold her hand to her mouth and rush into the bathroom.

As she swills with mouthwash, a voice shouts, ‘Let me in. It’s me, Gemma.’

Like many of the soldiers’ wives living at Carver Barracks, Saffron Walden, the 32 year-old, buxom Donna is thankful for the support offered by the other wives.

‘What took you so long? I’ve been knocking for ages,’ says Gemma.

‘Sorry! I was in the bathroom. Besides, I’ve been distracted since coming back from the Doctor’s, yesterday.’

‘Are you sure it’s nothing serious?’ says Gemma, as she pays close attention to Donna’s every word.

‘It’s nothing life threatening. The doctor advised me to discuss it with John first, seeing as he is partly responsible.’

Donna suddenly feels tired and hopes that her friend doesn’t stay too long. As she contemplates John’s whereabouts, she reminds herself that no news is good news. After all, it’s only been a few days since he last phoned.

About Sean

I live in my own thoughts, chat to imaginary friends, and survive primarily on Snickers and Nescafe. I work full-time and study part-time for a BA in English Literature with the OU. Home is the North West of England, and my heroes are those authors that can make miracles out of paper and words…… “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” – Mark Twain.
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