Writing Fiction: Developing the Main Character

Well we had a happy week in writing.  Earlier this week I posted about the highs and lows (okay, they were all lows) of having kids write fiction pieces.  Then I read the Lucy Calkins unit of study on fiction a couple of years ago.  Turns out I wasn't actually teaching them how to write quality fiction.  Whoops.

The kiddos spent this week developing their main characters.  The idea is that you have to have this character so well developed that you "know" them inside and out.  We used Tacky the Penguin and Wodney from Hooway for Wodney Rat a good bit for this.  Based on personality, we discuss what their favorite games, books, colors, etc. would be.

This was pretty fun.  Here's what they came up with:

Tacky-
Favorite game: Twister
Favorite color: Tie dye
When he grows up: Circus Clown
Favorite Sport: Cannonball Diving

Wodney-

Favorite game: Solitaire 
Favorite color: Beige
When he grows up: Librarian
Favorite Sport: None, would just get picked on

The point was, even though none of this was in the books, we "knew" the characters well enough to make these decisions.  They had to get to know their character just as well.  So, we worked on this allll week long:

Click on image to download.

It's legal size and I blow it up to 11x17 on the copy machine at school so it's B. I. G.

I model with a character of my own.  Do some of them have characters slightly similar to mine?  Yep, but I'm okay with that.  For struggling writers, this is going to be a challenge, so if they need a little more support that's fine, too.

The Heart of the story is an important section.  It's how I trick them into have a real story, with a real problem, and a real ending.  Muahahahaha.  That was supposed to be tricky laughter.  It's reading more evil though.  Anyway, everyone creates a character that is different in some way that others perceive negatively.  Then, we're going to pull a Helen Lester trick and have that difference solve a problem in the story.  Smart, right?  We're going to plan next week, and I'll share more then.

Here's how I grade it:
Click on image to download.

The last section is very important.  I pull each kid one on one and ask them to explain how three random pieces of information make sense with their character.  This adds a level of accountability to this project and pushes them to really think about their character.  I was super impressed with what I heard from them!

Happy happy happy Friday everyone!



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8 comments

  1. So cute! I love this idea...helps to get more developed characters and stories! Thanks for sharing!

    :)Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

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  2. LOVE this! Thanks so much for sharing, Megan! And, AMAZING job on Julie's Critter Cafe blog makeover!!! You are incredible, girl!!
    Growing Firsties

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  3. This looks great! Thank you for sharing it! I love Lucy Calkins! I get to see her in March! I'm so excited!

    Amanda
    Collaboration Cuties

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  4. Amazing character ideas Megan, I love it! Thanks for including the rubric too - so useful.
    Leslie

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  5. This is great!! I'm always trying to find ways to get better fiction out of my kiddos. Thank you for sharing!!

    Jessica
    http://ideasbyjivey.blogspot.com/

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  6. Megan--I love the accountability questions idea you mentioned. We aren't doing fiction this year, but I think that it's something that can easily be modified. You're kids are so lucky--my third grader would be in heaven.

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  7. I love the chart. It is a neat way for students to organize information and gets in some of that inferring! Thanks so much for sharing :)

    Catherine
    The Brown-Bag Teacher

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  8. I love all your ideas Megan! They seriously make me miss teaching my sixth graders. :) I love Lucy Calkins! I've never gotten to meet her, but I did get the chance to see Donalyn Miller at the CCIRA Conference last year, which was amazing!

    ~Jessica
    Fun in PreK-1

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