Writing Activity to Develop Characters

Tiffany has come up with this really neat activity that she does with her main characters when she is developing a character for one of her books. It is such a cool activity that I asked her to write up how she does it. And she has finally written it up for me to share with you.

I hope that it is helpful to you and your children. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Something my Mother has wanted me to share with all of y’all is a part of my writing process we have dubbed ‘Poetic Backstory.’
Let me explain.

Let’s take a Character, let’s call her Sue.

Now in a Poetic Backstory our goal is to get to know Sue beyond her hair color and height. We want to get to know her soul.
So. Let’s take Sue and let’s think on her for a moment here.
My thoughts go to ‘does she remind me of a Sunset? Brilliant hues streaking across the sky before melting into darkness? Or is she a Sunrise peaking through the trees in the early morning light?’
I think about if she reminds me of Rubarb pie. Is she a unique yet comforting person? Is she dark and complex like German chocolate cake?
Then as I ponder these things it leads me into her life’s path.
Let me show you . . .

Sue Rae Tyler was the dying sun on a cloudy day.
She was the flicker of a candle in a pitch black room.
The sparkle of fireflies on a summer night.
Sue Rae Tyler was four years old when she broke her arm. Falling from a tree she wasn’t supposed to climb.
Yet as she walked up to her mother with blood and dirt on her cheeks, she smiled painfully as her mother shrieked.

Sue– Notice how I’m not always saying ‘Sue’ or ‘Sue Rae’ or her full name? Spice it up and don’t always use one or the other.–is a slice of Cherry pie. Cinnamon flavored whipped cream swirled on top.
She’s gap toothed smiles and she’s others before herself.

Sue Rae is the—okay lemme show you, I stopped here. Because for a moment I thought that Sue was the eldest. She hides her pain behind a smile, so why?

Instead of being the eldest like I initially thought, Sue turned out to be the Youngest. She hides the pain because she wants to be more mature like her big siblings. She doesn’t want to be treated like a baby.
So with this revelation we can continue—youngest of five.
‘Don’t be such a baby.’ And ‘Only babies cry’ Race through her little ears and Sue Rae grows a stiff shell.

Sue Rae is a swing set on a ancient tree branch.
The late night reading underneath blankets.
She grows like a weed and Sue Rae Tyler loves that
.—And stop again. See what I did here? I put an emphasizes on ‘loves’. I want that word to pop out. I want you to feel her desire and pride.
Because that’s the point of this exercise.
To feel.

Now, you try! Why don’t you try with a character from Winnie the Pooh?
Try Piglet or Tigger on for size :) .

Does Piglet remind you of apple cobbler? Does he shiver under a mountain of blankets? Is he a warm hug on a crisp fall day?
What does Tigger symbolize for you? Is he a sugar rush on Thanksgiving evening? Is he a hoard of Easter candy in the corner of a room? Does he remind you of a bright starry night?
Go from there to writing a memory that might have impacted them.
Get creative! Maybe write about Tigger’s first bounce and how it made him feel.
Or when Piglet met Pooh Bear and the feeling of belonging and friendship that grew.

And that’s it. We’d love to hear what you come up with; share it in the comments with us. Or share your experience with this activity.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

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