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January Issue

Vol 31|No 3|January 2021


© J. McKenzie -- you can order Laptop Thinking and Writing here.


Defining Character

By Jamie McKenzie (about author)


This was originally Chapter Eight in Laptop Thinking and Writing.

An earlier chapter devoted considerable attention to Ahab’s character and how one might research and then define it. In this chapter, we will explore the challenge of defining the character of a city, a writer and a restaurant. These three are used as examples to illustrate the thought process that will produce a winning document. Character is an issue running through much that matters. It is worthy of careful analysis.

After considering these three thinking and writing tasks, you will be well prepared to identify and describe the character of many other institutions ranging from banks and utilities to hospitals and symphony orchestras.

In each of these three challenges, you will begin by studying and learning. You will gather evidence to help you make a list of key words that capture the essence of the city, the writer and the restaurant.

Once you select a city, you will ask many questions. Unlike the typical school report about a city, you do not care much about basic facts like the number of museums or acres of parks. You want to know if these museums are exciting and worth a visit. You want to know if the parks are inviting and safe for a runner even in the early morning or evening hours. Do people smile at strangers? Are they warm and welcoming? Are they in a big hurry? Do they tend to be rude? Does the city have a joyful, pleasant spirit? An esprit? Is the city suffering from an opioid epidemic? Are there many homeless? Panhandlers? Police that seem well trained and respectful? Is housing reasonably priced or barely affordable? How is the air quality? The crime rate? The climate in summer and winter? The traffic during rush hour?

To continue reading this chapter as a PDF file, click here. Or click on the paragraph below. This will take you to the full chapter.


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