Find a café in a town centre with a large window and a good view of the street. Get yourself a coffee and take up residence by the window. It’s essential you can see the street clearly so you might need to choose your café carefully.

Now you’re ready to start shooting. As each person walks past the window write down a word or at best a three word phrase to describe them. These can be either a summation of their physical appearance or the attitude or the effect they have on you or just the first word that pops into your head.

The sniper works best if you are ruthlessly instantaneous with the pen and utterly instinctual. First thought=only thought. You are a sniper going about your business. The metaphor falls down a little here because precision shooting with a gun probably does not rely much on instinct; but where it does hold is the sense that you are hidden from view and aiming to take down your prey with words. The kill is in your instantaneous summation.

Do this for however long it takes to fill a page – remember these should only be very short descriptions. For example;

arrogant
alive
tall
arse
nervous
vindictive
death

and so on.

Spend about 15 minutes grouping these attributes into positive (+) and negative (-). Develop a new set of characters by giving each one three positives and two negatives. These exercises are designed to give you surplus material for use in some of the later work, so at this point you can file your results for if you want.

You may wish to respond immediately. Write for 40 minutes.