Creating characters is arguably one of the most important aspects of storytelling. Sure, plot is important, but even with a compelling story, readers will only be interested in “what happens next” if they care about the characters at the heart of the action.
For your primary class, consider breaking down the characteristics of a well-known fictional character—the wolf from Red Riding Hood or Cinderella, for example. Use photographs to help students identify key physical characteristics, and then further brainstorm to include other aspects of characterization such as family, occupation, geographical location, etc.
Now, using this character sketch, ask students to write a paragraph (or more) in answer to the following question:
What was this character doing the day before the actual story begins?
In the case of Red Riding Hood, for example, students may consider what the wolf was doing the day before he found Red Riding Hood in the woods—perhaps spending a few hours at the dentist polishing up those LARGE teeth?
For older students, consider brainstorming a new character as a class, and then having students individually create that character’s back story by writing a few creative paragraphs about how the character might react to a certain situation.
For instance, yesterday, your character witnessed a bank robbery. Based on the characteristics you have created as a class, each student may have a different creative interpretation of how the character responded—did he chase after the robber? Did she go straight to the police? Ignore the situation altogether?
And you never know, these character backstories may just spark a new fictional adventure. Let us know how it goes!
~ The Teachers Media Team