Thursday, December 16, 2010

Who's Johnny?



Yes…who is Johnny. Where have all the characters gone?

Do you remember when we used to name everything? Dolls, stuffies…and then our cars. Ever ask a kid what their toy’s name is? They will say “Teddy” if it’s a bear, or “Doggy” if it’s a dog.

Circa 1984 I received my first Cabbage Patch Doll. She came with a birth certificate and a pre chosen name. Mine was Geraldine Georgia. I changed it after the adoption became official….

What is the point LIT MAVEN!!!!
Well my point is…where has the discussion of book characters gone? Where is the focus on developing strong characters? Is this lack of focus evident in the lack of powerful story writing? Is it possible that stories would improve if the student’s really fleshed out their characters? Would the whole story improve?

Brian McDonald has an amazing book on the process of screenwriting called Invisible Ink. He said the key to writing a great story is to really “know” a character and then throw something in their way that would be “the worst thing that could happen.”
Recently in a grade five class I proposed this idea of character + the “worst thing” that could happen.
"What if a girl was popular?"

“She could become invisible.”

“ Or another girl who was more popular shows up at school.”

Exactly, know you know your characters traits….the need for popularity…throw the worst thing that could happen at them.
Voila….Character + motive+ plot + need for resolution is established.
So perhaps we need focus kids back on the characters they know. What would be the worst thing to happen to Fancy Nancy? What do we know about her? What would be the “worse thing that could happen”?

Let’s looks at Shrek. He was a recluse and liked to do things his way.
What’s the worst thing that happened?

Everybody moved onto his land. (Remember, he’s a recluse). Someone interfered with his journey causing him to collaborate. (Remember he liked to do things his own way.)

These ideas should help you get started.

Lit Maven
Out

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