SWC Writer's Workshop #1

Hey Summer Writers! How are those stories coming along? We know you are off to a great start—the 500 picture books and chapters submitted over the past week leave no doubt! But if you are losing momentum, or if you want to learn strategies for carrying your stories through to the finish line, we have something new for you.

One of the goals of the Summer Writing Club—and Storybird—is to help you become a better writer. So throughout the summer, we’ll be hosting virtual Writer’s Workshops to teach you techniques to improve your writing. Each video will also include a worksheet that you can download, but don’t worry—this isn’t homework. Summer Writing Club is about creativity, inspiration, and fun. (Which is why Team Storybird’s head of community, guinevere, looks so goofy in the video below.)

Grab a pen and paper, press play, and join our first Writer’s Workshop!

SWC Writer’s Workshop #1 – Character Development

In this workshop, you’ll learn how to create great characters. Your characters are at the center of the action in your story, so you need to know them really well. What choices would they make? How would they react in different situations? What motivates them?

The better you understand your characters, the better your readers will be able to relate to them. So, before you begin your next story, or even continue the one you’re working on, take a minute to have an imaginary heart-to-heart with your protagonist (and/or antagonist) and find out everything you can about them.

Here’s a list of questions to begin. (Quick note: it gets tiresome writing he/she over and over again. So assume that these questions apply to your character whether they are male, female, animal, robot, faery, etc. OK? Cool.)

1. The Basics
Name: (first, middle, last, and nickname)
How old is he/she?
What does he/she look like?
Where does he/she live?

2. Background
Where did your character grow up?
Are her parents married or divorced?
Does she have siblings? If so, is she the oldest, youngest, middle?
Which family member is she closest to?
Which one does she keep secrets from?

3. Self Image
What is her strongest personality trait?
What is she most proud of?
What does she wish she could change about herself?
How do other people see her, and is it different from how she sees herself?
What is she most afraid of?

4. Desires
What does this character want?
How far would she go to get what she wants?
Where would she draw the line?
Do you think she’d be happy if she got her heart’s desire?

5. Summary
Read back over everything you’ve written about your character and summarize in one sentence what he or she wants, and what obstacles stand in the way. Use this to guide you as you keep writing your story.

If it’s helpful, you can repeat this exercise with other characters in your story, such as the villain or the love interest or the long-lost father who abandoned the family many years ago. The deeper you explore your characters, the more your story will come to life.

Click here to download worksheet

Click here to see all of the Summer Writing Club posts and Story Sparks

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