Creative writing workshop: Putting it all together

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By Teresa Saunderseducation journalist and children’s writer

The final part of our series explains how to help children combine appearance, behaviour and speech to create exciting story characters

Putting it all together

Our favourite story characters all have a magic ingredient that lifts them straight off the page and into our hearts. We see them as friends, role models, heroes and heroines. They stir our emotions, earn our admiration, make us laugh, and make us cry. They entice us into their world to glimpse the excitement, sample the danger, experience the adventure, plot the revenge and share the laughter. We want to be like them – in our imaginations their virtues of bravery, honesty, loyalty, justice or humour are ours also. Even the great villains and monsters, whose terrifying deeds and cruel exploits bring heart-stopping drama, suspense and danger to the story, succeed in both frightening and fascinating us in equal measure.

Finding that special ingredient is the key to creating exciting and memorable story characters. Allow children plenty of time to think about the kind of character, or characters, that they would like to create before they begin to write – reminding them that the more detail they introduce, the more interesting their character, and their story, will be. As the children’s ideas begin to take shape, encourage them to explore how the three main aspects they have already studied – appearance, behaviour and speech – work together to create strong characters. Talk with them about the importance of coordinating these aspects in such a way that their characters are brought to life in an interesting and intriguing, but believable, way.

ACTIVITIES Ages 7-9

1. Clever combinations

Start by concentrating on successful ways of bringing together the three important aspects of character that the children have already studied – appearance, behaviour and speech. Reinforce the idea by asking them to compile a simple character chart (see right) that describes how these three aspects apply to some of their favourite fairytale characters, and how they match and interlink with each other.

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