Picture This! – Encouraging students to visualise to create dynamic characters

When it comes to creative writing, students need to understand that their characters must be entirely unique from one another. Readers should be able to instantly see the nuances in personality offered through dialogue and behaviour. However, encouraging students to think with this depth of critique can be difficult.

In Visual Writing Prompt, I provide a number of reasons for the benefits of using images to spark ideas. However, it is incredibly helpful to pull back and draw directly from the imagination of students. They have ideas already, it is merely the process of extraction that needs to occur…

For this reason, we need to develop a little script.

Close your eyes. Think of a cluttered and dusty desk. What objects do you see? How big are the objects and what colours are they? Picture this image in your mind and write a brief description of the desk.

Give students a few minutes to write.

Now close your eyes again. Think of the person who owns this desk. What do they do for a living? How do they speak? Open your eyes. Write a brief description about this person. Describe who they are.

Give students a few minutes to write.

Now close your eyes one last time. Imagine you are walking through this persons house. You already know what their desk looks like, but how about everything else? Do they have a notoriously untidy room? What through the house in your mind. Describe what you see.

If you were to stroll through anyone’s house, you would discover a number of nuances about that person. Through this activity, we are encouraging students to think of the whole person. We craft a three-dimensional impression of the person, considering all the minute details of who they are. Students can capture these nuances in their story, showing instead of telling elements of their characterisation.

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