It was very simple. They 'sketched' each other, using words not lines. I had them in groups of three and they did 5 minutes on each of the others - A drew B for 5 minutes, then C. Meanwhile, B was drawing A, then C, and at the same time C was drawing B then A. Strict instructions were given not to make personal comments that might offend (who would think that colour suited them, what a big nose, are those spots?) and concentrate on the detail of what they were observing. I wanted to them really look, in a way that we usually don't.
And the results were terrific pieces of observation. People examined the fall of a scarf and the fastening of boots, the weave of a lacy collar and a tiny, almost imperceptible, line of purple woven into the fabric of a smart jacket. Light caught earrings, gold chains rested on collar bones, a line of crochet edged a cardigan like the crenellations on the Great Wall of China.
The sitters often expressed amazement - they'd not noticed, or had forgotten, the detail about their clothing - and the rest of us listened intently, fascinated by the writing and the depth of the detail.
It confirmed to me that if you're going to describe anything, the generic is a waste of space. All detail should be specific and detailed, and the more depth there is, the more interesting and believable it will be.
NEW!!! I've finally got round to organising some course dates....
How to WRITE a Novel: London 3rd May/Birmingham 7th May/
Oxford 8th May/Exeter 21st May/Bath 12th June
How to SELL a Novel: London 24th May/Exeter 4th June/
Bath 3rd July Details are on my website