Grade: all

#1501. Creative Character Development

Reading/Writing, level: all
Posted Sun Jan 9 12:35:06 PST 2000 by Nikki Barnette (
High School English & Freshman Success, South Carolina
Materials Required: magazine pictures, writing paper
Activity Time: 1 class period
Concepts Taught: creative writing, character development

-Students will write creatively.
-Students will practice character development.
-Students will write a narrative.

I go through various magazines and cut out pictures of people who look interesting, or are engaged in various activities. The exercise works best if there is only one person in the picture, or if the main person in the picture is obvious. Each picture should be numbered. The pictures should be of people who are not famous or celebrities, and are not animated.

I like to start out by having students arrange their desks in a complete circle. I include myself in the circle. As I am giving instructions for the writing exercise, I pass around the folder that contains the magazine pictures and ask each student to quickly choose one. When each student has a picture, I choose one.
The first thing I ask the students to do is to write the number of their picture in the top corner of their paper, and write their name under that number. Then, the students create a brief profile of the person in their picture. They give the person a name, they write down what age they believe this person is, and give the person an occupation according to what they think this person looks like he or she may do for a living. Then they pass their paper and the picture to the right.
The students are then instructed to begin a narrative about this person, making sure to study the person and develop the type of personality, interests, quirks, pet peeves, etc. they think this person may have. They are to begin writing at my cue. After they have had time to think, and write a few sentences, I call time and they must stop writing immediately. They may finish the word they were writing, but not the sentence or the thought. When time is called they must again pass their papers and pictures to the right and pick up where the person left off.
Each student should have an opportunity to write something on each paper. When the papers have completed the circle and each student ends up with his or her original, I give them a few minutes to read their stories. We then discuss how other students perceived the same character, and whether or not the finished story was anything like what the original writer had in mind when they began it.
I like to have several of the stories read aloud to the class, as we end up with some very humorous, serious, mysterious, adventurous stories.