This is probably my favorite part of writing. I’m not saying I’m the best at it or even all that great. Indeed, I see them clearly in my head, but I’m not sure I’m able to fully convey their looks and personalities in my writing. I have a huge imagination!
I say all this to explain that some will be naturals at building characters, but for most it will be a matter of growth over time.
It’s best to start, as always, with the basics. Whether a character is humanoid, animalistic, Orr something entirely different, it’s probably a good idea to have a brief description of how they look. A name is also a necessity. Typically. Everyone is different in their creative process. I find the names first and that leads to what they look like. Others see their characters before they have a name.
This may be the best many of our younger writers can achieve at first. We don’t want to overwhelm them. Doing so could push them away from writing altogether.
For our older elementary school students and beyond – our more advanced writers – we want to push them a little more. Our writers should begin to give their characters a personality. This isn’t easy for everyone. Actually, it can be quite difficult.
As I write this, I’m reminded of the Sims game. It was always fun to choose how funny and patient and kind my Sim would be, and that always affected the Sim’s mood when playing the game. With that in mind, feel free to use the attachment to help your writer’s design their character’s personalities. Once they have the personality worked out, they should use that to shape how their character acts and talks in the story.
For our even older students – think high school and college – there’s a further step. It’s one I wish I had learned about much earlier in life: have your students come up with a backstory for their character(s). It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can even be bullet points of big events that happened in the character’s life that shaped his or her personality. This helped my character development immensely.
Hope this helps your writers!
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