Food for thought
“Your fiction can only be as successful as the
characters who move it and move within it.” –
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.
Major elements of any character
Other characters’ interpretations
Unique & Memorable
Familiar character types appear in story after
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?
Aim for individuality instead of typicality, but
A Baptist Texan behaves differently than an
A rural schoolboy behaves differently than a
Remember what is appropriate for your
character; a reader can only suspend their
disbelief so much.
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?
Intricacies that define character type
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
This can be a description, narrative, or a
segment of autobiography.
The main point is to completely lose yourself and
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Next story challenge:
Write a short story with a main character. This
story should clearly specify, without “telling”:
Be sure to include a name that fits the
character’s actions and personality.