Creative Writing
Fiction
Creating Characters
Notes
Food for thought
“Your fiction can only be as successful as the
characters who move it and move within it.” –
Janet Burro...
Major elements of any character
Authorial interpretation
Appearance
Speech
Thoughts
Actions
Other characters’ interp...
Unique & Memorable
Familiar character types appear in story after
story.
Absent-minded professor
A lazy worker
An domi...
Credibility
Aim for individuality instead of typicality, but
remember “appropriateness.”
A Baptist Texan behaves differe...
Purpose
Desire: what does he/she/it want?
Can the reader identify with this desire? We
want to be able to sympathize and...
Intricacies that define character type
Age
Gender
Race
Nationality
Marital status
Region
Education
Religion
Profe...
Playing with Intricacies
Individual Activity - Gender
Please complete on a separate piece of paper.
Write a page in the first person, assuming
th...
Class Activity - Age
Make a list of some of the ways a writer can
suggest a character’s approximate age.
(Wrinkles and gr...
Naming Characters
The names you choose have a strong and
subtle influence on how your readers will
respond to your charac...
Individual Activity - Worksheet
Name the characters on your worksheet,
keeping in mind that you can plant, with a
name, a...
Characters & Desire: Driving Plot
Story Machine Cards
You have ten index cards in front of you.
On the first five, list ...
Shuffle the Story Machine
Shuffle each pack of cards SEPERATELY.
Now, ask “Why did Card A do Card B?”
“Why did the fash...
Next story challenge:
Write a short story with a main character. This
story should clearly specify, without “telling”:
G...
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Cw fiction characters10

  1. 1. Creative Writing Fiction Creating Characters
  2. 2. Notes
  3. 3. Food for thought “Your fiction can only be as successful as the characters who move it and move within it.” – Janet Burroway Use your journal to note observations about people in various environments. Try to capture their personality, their appearance, their actions, and their mannerisms in words. Attention to detail is significant.
  4. 4. Major elements of any character Authorial interpretation Appearance Speech Thoughts Actions Other characters’ interpretations
  5. 5. Unique & Memorable Familiar character types appear in story after story. Absent-minded professor A lazy worker An domineering wife Her timid husband A tyrannical boss A staggering drunk They will inevitably show up in your stories. How can you make them unique and memorable?
  6. 6. Credibility Aim for individuality instead of typicality, but remember “appropriateness.” A Baptist Texan behaves differently than an Italian nun. A rural schoolboy behaves differently than a Harvard professor. Remember what is appropriate for your character; a reader can only suspend their disbelief so much.
  7. 7. Purpose Desire: what does he/she/it want? Can the reader identify with this desire? We want to be able to sympathize and/or identify with his/her situation(s)! What parts of your character support this desire? Contrast it?
  8. 8. Intricacies that define character type Age Gender Race Nationality Marital status Region Education Religion Profession
  9. 9. Playing with Intricacies
  10. 10. Individual Activity - Gender Please complete on a separate piece of paper. Write a page in the first person, assuming the voice of someone of the opposite gender. This can be a description, narrative, or a segment of autobiography. The main point is to completely lose yourself and become another.
  11. 11. Class Activity - Age Make a list of some of the ways a writer can suggest a character’s approximate age. (Wrinkles and gray hair are the most obvious. Many are more subtle.) Make the best use of your powers of observation. The more precise the detail, the more convincing it is. Cour list into your journal.
  12. 12. Naming Characters The names you choose have a strong and subtle influence on how your readers will respond to your characters. Names you give characters should not be drawn out of a hat, but carefully tested to see if they “work.” You may have to change a character’s name several times before you get it right.
  13. 13. Individual Activity - Worksheet Name the characters on your worksheet, keeping in mind that you can plant, with a name, a clue to their role in your fiction.
  14. 14. Characters & Desire: Driving Plot Story Machine Cards You have ten index cards in front of you. On the first five, list labels associated with what they do (jobs, activities, etc.) On the second five cards, list a mildly strange or unusual behavior. These do not have to be associated with the labels on the other cards. In fact, it would be better if they were not.
  15. 15. Shuffle the Story Machine Shuffle each pack of cards SEPERATELY. Now, ask “Why did Card A do Card B?” “Why did the fashion model pick up the paper on the driveway?” Continue to flip cards until you find a question that’s worth answering. There are many possible pairings. Reshuffle if necessary. The event suggested by the machine may work best at the beginning of the story, but think of what would happen if you placed it at the end or in the middle.
  16. 16. Next story challenge: Write a short story with a main character. This story should clearly specify, without “telling”: Gender Age Desire Be sure to include a name that fits the character’s actions and personality.

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