Characterization Lesson Plan and Creative Writing Assignment: Add a Character

It’s one thing to teach characterization in short stories and other literary pieces. In fact, I have a nice characterization chart (at the top of the aforelinked page), which will help you teach direct and indirect characterization in literature.

Getting students to create characters in their own writing is taking it to the next level. Use this characterization lesson plan/creative writing assignment to teach how to create characters. It’s called Add a Character Writing Assignment.

You could probably figure the assignment out from just looking at the Add a Character graphic organizer, which is part of the 8 Simple Writing Assignments lesson plans I created and have used in an actual classroom with actual students.

Once you look at the organizer, the following example will make sense.

Slide1Story: “The Monkey’s Paw”

Title of Scene: “The Monkey’s Paw Strikes Again”

Character Name: Blake the Bloke from Down Under – a former Australian Rules football player who tries his hand (and foot) at American football.

Attribute #1: Slippery-handed. His inability to catch footballs snapped directly to him makes him untrustworthy in end-of-game situations. For example, he might just drop the ball at the worst possible moment of a football game causing his team to lose in the most excruciating manner possible.

Attribute #2: He’s insecure and fears that punters don’t get the recognition they deserve. It’s this insecurity that leads him to a shaman, named Brutus Buckeye, who has cursed a wolverine paw, which has mistakenly been identified as a monkey’s paw by a certain Sergeant-Major named Morris.

Attribute #3: He’s anxious, which causes him to panic under pressure, which leads him to compounding the mistake of dropping a football by picking it up and trying to punt it even though there are 9 opposing defenders about to crush his sternum.

Attribute #4: He’s crafty. As a hedge in case something bad happens, he puts his own curse on the wolverine paw that anyone who causes his wish to go awry will suffer a dislocated hip.

Here’s an example story based on the above pre-writing.

And here are some fancy common core writing standards to show your administrator.

  • W.9-10.3 – Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • W.9-10.3b – Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • W.9-10.3c – Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
  • W.9-10.5 – Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of L.9-10.1-3.)
  • RL.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
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