Descriptive Writing: Introducing a Character (or two. But not more than two.)

Right then.

It may well be the case that, having extablished a sense of place, you wish to introduce some characters. You do not have to, of course, but should you feel so inclined, you are more than welcome.

As long as you do it well.

BIG FAT WARNING: Don’t fall into the narrative death trap! Remember, you are only being assessed on your ability to describe stuff. So nothing needs to happen. If things start happening, cross them out.

BIG FAT TIP: Personally, I’m not really that enthralled by the typical description of a character’s appearance. You know the sort:

He was 5’9”, with brown hair and dark brown eyes. He was wearing a navy blue tracksuit, with Nike trainers, and carrying a rucksack.

It’s not that I don’t want to know what they look like, it’s just that I’m a little bit nosier than that. I want to know what’s going on. You know, really. I want to know that they’re feeling really angry, the kind of angry where you think you might cry at any moment, because it’s just not fair. But I don’t want you to tell me. I want to have to figure it out for myself, like I would in real life:

He remained perfectly still, almost too still, it seemed, for it seemed as if he was suspended in time, and I thought for a moment that he had stopped breathing. It struck me that his eyes were unblinking, and, as I watched, the lines of his mouth began to harden, and his nostrils grew large, and the traces of a frown darkened, solidifying themselves into deeper, darker tracks that scored the surface of his forehead.

Filling in a table, like the one below, might help you get a sense of your character, before you begin to write. (This is called ‘planning’.)

  Character 1: EXCITED Character 2: ANGRY Character 3: SCARED
Facial expressions       
Posture       
Actions / Body Language      
Other       

And remember, we don’t need to know why your character is feeling like this (that would be the beginnings of a narrative) but just what they are feeling. It’s the literary equivalent of an emoticon.

Please feel free to post your descriptions below.

I would love that.

Preparation for Creative Writing

Character description – showing not telling

Openings – inspiration exercise

Here is the PPT on ‘Showing and Telling’, which includes a descriptive writing exercise.

Complete this in preparation for your creative writing assignment next week.

I’ve also added the ‘Inpsiration’ worksheet so that you can have a go at using some different words.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, here is the link to an A grade exemplar story.

The Fugitive

With best wishes for a happy weekend,

Ms North