This week we focused on storytelling, and we explored to skills of character, plot and setting.
A character is an individual that has distinct mental and moral qualities, and traits, unique from others. Different characters have different traits, someone could spontaneous, which could be related to childhood.
To explore this skill, we were asked multiple questions by Greg, to build a character profile, and he then gave us the task of writing a character description. Some of the questions we were asked were:
What is their name? Rhea Walker
What was the best time of their life? Being a young child having fun with both of her parents.
Are their parents still alive? Her mother is not.
What is a secret they’ve never told anyone? Her sexuality – she’s bisexual.
Where are they from? She was born in London, but lives in Brighton for University.
What is their most treasured possession? Her mother’s journals from when she was younger.
This was the starting point of which we used to write a character description, within a short story based on the answers to these questions. My character description is:
“I’m nothing like Charley, in fact I couldn’t be any more different. I have just-above-the-shoulder length hair, mouse brown like my mother’s and dark brown eyes – the kind that are mistaken for being black. I’m taller than Charley, but I’m no giant; my height is the one thing I like about myself, I’m just the perfect height to touch the floor when sitting down or even reach the cereal from the top shelf.”
My character description is fairly basic, but I feel like my style of writing in this format is basic but effective and interesting. I think that it describes the way I pictured Rhea perfectly, without rambling on and going off on a tangent. I think that it could have been better for me to describe some other aspect of the character, rather than just her physical appearance.
The professional example of a character description that I will use is from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, and it is a description of the character Albus Dumbledore.
“He was tall, thin and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak which swept the ground and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice.”
Rowling’s description of Dumbledore is both detailed and highly descriptive. She used his clothes and accessories to portray his characteristics and personality. The fact that his nose looked as though it could have been broken at least twice suggests that he was involved in fights a lot, or contributed in acts of violence. She uses basic descriptive words, yet they seem to have such an effect that you know instantly that the character that she is describing is important.
To improve on my character descriptions I will ensure that I write in a little more detail but I would like to keep the basic style that I have acquired because it suits the way I write, and I find it enjoyable.
The plot of a story is the arc that the tale tells. As a story goes on there will be a beginning, middle and end, which would entail: character needs, conflict, character arcs, change, obstacles, a climax and a resolution. Below, there’s an image which shows a messy hand drawn version of what a plots involves.
The setting in story-telling is the place or type of surroundings where something is positioned or where an event takes place. We carried out an activity similar to the one of the character description, just based in this skill, and some of the questions we were asked by Greg were:
Is your setting real, fictional or both? Real.
When and where is your overall setting? America, New York City.
Are there any landmarks or unusual features? Times Square, there are lots of lights.
What can you smell? What can you hear? I can smell bagels, coffee and hot-dogs. I hear car horns, indecipherable chatter, people arguing and shouting, and even a man busking nearby.
What can you feel physically, mentally or spiritually? I feel uncomfortable, claustrophobic and anxious walking through these crowded streets, and but I also feel content and happy because there’s an aura from New York City that makes you never want to leave.
A small part of my written setting description is:
“The rush-hour crowds are enough to leave you feeling mildly anxious and the lack of visible concrete is dizzying to those who aren’t used to the hustle and bustle of city life. Blank spaces are swallowed up by the digital screens and billboards all around, gifting you no time in the world to take it in as you walk along the streets. The thoughts that go through your head as you traipse through the city are conflicting as you tell yourself I don’t want to be here, this is too much, but I love this city, I never want to go home all at once, and the emotions running through you are overpowering.”
I liked this piece of writing because it really helped me to see that I actually enjoy this form of creative writing, and I feel as though the whole piece really showed that I can describe a setting when I have it planned out in my head.
An example of a professional setting description is from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling:
“When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out his most boring tie for work, and Mrs. Dursley gossiped away happily as she wrestled a screaming Dudley into his high chair.”
The difference between my writing and Rowling’s is that my piece is more focused on describing the setting alone, whereas Rowling describes the setting alongside telling her story, which is something I aspire to be able to do successfully one day.
Overall, this week has helped me to learn more about the storytelling side of creative writing, and has helped me to see that I can do it, and that I enjoy writing in this style.