Characterisation – Whose boots are those?

Writing stories can be a difficult challenge for students. Why? Because we expect them to create new people. We can be presumptuous and expect them to be intuitively creative when sometimes this is not the case. Children are by nature quite imaginative, but this does not always relate to the types of creativity we want them to have. For this reason, it is important that we provide helpful tools for them to be creative and think outside the box.

  • Below, I have a useful starter activity to generate strong ideas with creative writing. When creating a character, students must consider the following:
  • Speech: How does your character speak?
  • Thinks: What does your character think about? Ambitions?
  • Effects on others: What effect does the character have on others?
  • Actions/Behaviours: How does your character speak? Strengths? Skills? Weaknesses?
  • Looks/Appearance: What does your character look like?

This is quite detail. How do we get them into an activity like this? Present an image like the following with an old pair of shoes (or new). Have students think about or even draw the person whose shoes belong to. Have them think about their appearance in general. Would they were shorts or jeans? How old would they be? Are they tall or short? These guiding questions will help students develop a deeper idea about who this character is.

From there, we can begin to unpack how this character might effect others or what their day to day thoughts are. Using an image like this will allow you to push students to think about all aspects of the character.

Once the character is designed, they can begin to conceptualise what conflicts the character might have (Internal conflicts: how do they feel; external conflicts: problems within their environment).

Alternatively, you could have jackets, hats, shirts and scarfs. Any form of clothing might make an indication about culture, religion and background. These can become rich discussion for your students to think outside the box with their writing.

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