Monday, June 17, 2013

Snapshot Bios: Monday Mini Challenge #5

Faces and snapshot bios of some famous criminals
 incarcerated at Alcatraz. Hopefully your characters will be
more law-abiding than these guys! 
     As I work on the rough draft for this middle grade novel, I'm filling in character worksheets as I go. Some of the characters seem fairly well-rounded for this early stage, others not so much. These personality-deficit characters take a little more muscle to flesh out.
     To get started, I like Darcy Pattison's blog post on Fiction Notes. I sometimes use her strategy to begin, writing my character's description as a simile. From there, I'm looking at one of my favorite craft books, Creating Characters Kids Will Love, by Elaine Marie Alphin. She suggests interviewing the character and gives two pages of sample questions. Years ago, I went to a workshop given by Richard Peck. He shared that he writes a first-person poem about all of his characters to get started.
     There are a bazillion exercises to help develop characters. Can you write a simile about one of your characters following Pattison's advice?  About about interviewing one of them? Better yet, have your character write you a pen pal letter, introducing him or herself.
   You have five minutes.
   Ready, set, GO!


  1. Ooooo, I love the pen pal letter idea. Thanks, Dawn!

  2. I really like Richard Peck. Heard him interviewed once and liked his common sense approach to writing. His 1st person poem idea is interesting....will give this some thought. Thanks!

    1. He read a couple of the poems during the workshop - very interesting! I think the poems would be especially helpful if you have a large cast of characters and need a quick refresher about the voices of certain characters.


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