Wednesday, November 19, 2008

stories

At the Wordstock teachers' workshop a couple of weeks ago, one of my brilliant I-want-to-be-him-when-I-grow-up instructors helped with characterization by having us write:

___________ is the kind of person who ____________.

We had to come up with one negative and one positive trait that would illuminate our character. I wrote "Jake is the kind of person who smokes on campus even when the principal's watching" and "Jake is the kind of person who visits his grandmother every weekend." I was amazed at how simple yet effective this exercise was - this kid I created in my mind just minutes before was suddenly taking moral shape, which is usually much harder to establish than physical shape. I wanted to write more about him! And I wanted to write about everyone around me...

In the creative writing class I'm teaching, I have already given this assignment. It was hard for students to go beyond the obvious at first - when I asked them to make up a statement about me, they started with "Mrs. S is the kind of person who wears a green sweater." I asked what that tells about my character; we agreed not much. I think they were a little nervous about using me as an example, which is understandable, but I prompted them with questions - How do you think I talk to my kids? Where do you think I shop? Who do you think I stalk at grocery & video stores? (KIDDING) They finally settled on "Mrs. S is the kind of person who notices lots of little things." Which we determined is good and annoying, but mostly good.

Now try not to do this the next time you're standing in line somewhere.

15 comments:

San Diego Momma said...

I love this exercise. Can I steal it for a PROMPTuesday?

Love,
Debbie, the kind of person who steals other people's intellectual property, but asks first.

Jenny said...

Love this idea! I remember when I first started teaching, the rules were explained to me as, "Beg, borrow, and steal!" I recently attended a workshop that gave us an idea on imitating a poem, my elementary school students came up with the most striking and insightful writing ever! Then one girl, beaming with pride brought me the same idea, but from her high school cousin's English class. Can I use this? : )

Jenny said...

Excuse me, "May I use this?"

Lisa Milton said...

Stephanie is the kind of person who makes a great friend.

True.

phd in yogurtry said...

"Lots of little things" such as commas and periods? Sparked my curiosity!

stephanie (bad mom) said...

YES yes yes! to those who want to use the idea - obviously I didn't generate it myself :D And who am I to stop the flow of creativity around the world?

San Diego Momma & Jenny: I would love your e-mail addresses so I can respond personally more often. And we could more easily share all of our fabulous writing stuff...

Suzanne said...

I'm gonna try this for my NaNoWriMo novel... which has stalled a little. I won't lie. Thanks for the idea, Teach!

Shana said...

Bad Mom is the kind of person who inspires creativity.

Bad Mom is the kind of person who stalks hunky young men in their places of employment, but is too chicken to snap a photo so her friends can live vicariously through her stalking.

LarryG said...

bad mom is the kind of blogger who is "good and annoying" :)

gee you're starting to sound like family now!

Elizabeth Bonds said...

I came to your blog to see if you had a WW posted, but found something so much cooler. I love this blog.

Thanks for this neat blog,
Elizabeth is someone who admitedly judges too quickly, but always give genuine time to learn the facts.

Stu said...

Bad Mom is the kind a person that makes me want to be bad. :o

-Stu

Jenny said...

Haha! Your husband's comment is funny! :)

Jenny said...

Agh - my computer won't let me e-mail you. Something about configuring my Outlook, and I can't remember the password...

Anonymous said...

Mrs. S is the kind of women who writes a blog but can't text msg or take pictures with her phone.


Teacher's pet

Janet said...

lol love it :-)

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