As many of you know, I am officially retired, won't be returning for more coaching or teaching, but I will be visiting Ingrid's class. That will be my pleasure at school this year. I hope to travel to visit my grandson this fall, too. He'll be a freshman in high school, hard to believe! I don't imagine he will wish for me to visit his classes, but perhaps I can make it for a music concert?
So, as I read about many of you talking about the next year, I wonder how I will feel in September? Will it be okay to tell people I'm retired? The slices will be different, may only be what I used to do? I feel like it's going to be fine. I'm looking forward to venturing into some different kinds of life's slices, and hoping they will be just as sweet.
In the meantime, because some of you are planning, I thought I'd share a favorite writing lesson in characterization. Through the years I've collected old photographs of both young and old people. In this lesson, I suggest that we can imagine a lot just by observing people. The first thing I have students do is keep a notebook for a couple of days, taking notes of people they notice, and additionally start to create stories around those they see. We brainstorm questions we might ask ourselves: what is the person wearing and doing, how about hair cut and color, is she or he with anyone, what expression on the face? I wanted to get the writers into the groove of imagining a story around the people they see.
Next, I have them write a brief description of the character. Anything is appropriate, the wilder the better. We're headed for a story, character driven. Finally I share the pictures I have. They can choose any one, sometimes two, that appeal. That's it, and then they write. Of course there's more, lessons in how writers "show" a character, breaking into small groups to share and ask each other questions about the person, conferences with me. And then more, concerning problems and plot and endings. . .
How do you start students writing fiction stories? Of course with different ages you will need different pictures. Here are a few of the pictures to get your imaginations flowing. Can you tell a story with one of them?
Be sure to click to enlarge.