Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Character Conversations

Tuesday Quick Writes
June 12, 2012

Guest author Jeannine Atkins or Kate Messner's Teachers Write Camp, guides us to sketch out our characters through questions and conversations.

The Prompt, remixed:

Think of your character
  • Write about her or him as if to your mom or a trusted friend
  • Or begin a poem or story as a letter to your main character
  • Perhaps write a conversation, a dialog between two characters. 
  • Or you can write a poem based on questions and responses, and edit out the questions. 
Or ask your character the sort of sincere, casual questions we often reserve for friends:
  • Do you have a favorite place to be alone?  
  • A favorite toy, piece of clothing, pet, tree, tool, or book?  
  • Did someone encourage you to do what you love?  How? 
  • Did anyone try to stop you?  
  • What did they do or say? 
  • What parts of your work are hard or boring?  
  • What mistakes did you make?  
  • What did you learn from them? 
  • Who or what do you love? 
Remember, if your character seems chatty, please, just let her speak, even when it seems off topic.

The Writing (Asked character questions and edited them out within the backdrop of the story):

I plopped my backback onto the table in the back of Garden Cafe. This is my favorite place, if I’m not in Lilac Row, one of the gardens in our city building. This table sits in the circle of potted fig trees, each reaching up to the skylight now covered with pelting rain. I could hear the tick, tick, tick of each drop. This is one of the few cafes with a skylight, and this table is usually taken. I may have to share it.

I placed my water cup near one of the empty chairs. I sipped my Blue Moon slowly. The spearmint relaxed me, and the flavor lingered as I pondered my blunder today. I hoped the water glass detered anyone else from sitting here.

Unzipping the side pocket of my backpack, I slid out mom’s sunflower coin and set it before me. I adjusted my necklace with it’s medpouch filled with lilac petals. I closed my eyes and sighed. 

Why did I forget Andrew’s permission slip? Now he may not get to go to the Sun Dance. I pulled out the slip and stared at it. I ran home after school and tried to turn it in to Ms. Banjours. She had left already. I looked around but did not see her here; this is her favorite coffee spot. At least, that’s what she described when she modeled “elaboration” for us in English. 

In one hour I have science lab, my favorite class. I’m leader of today’s session, and a little nervous. I don’t like having to tell people what to do if they forget what to do or forget part of their assignment. I love planning the labs, though, in the gardens. Today we will analyze the sudden outbreak of fungus on the sycamore trees. Even in this rain, it will be fun to run deep into the woods, hiding from each other and getting work done. The Elders will appreciate our analysis. We may even earn a day in the roof garden if we solve the cause of the issue. My dad says I have a gift for environmental science; he says I see how things are connected.

I wish I had connected with Mrs. Banjours. I’m not sure where she lives. I picked up mom’s coin and slid back into my backpack. Perhaps Mr. Sawyer knows where she lives. I may still have time. I checked the slip again to make sure Mom had signed it.

“Excuse me,” a voice said, “May I join you? All the other tables are taken.”

I looked up.

Mrs. Banjours sipped her cappachino and smiled.

“Is that Andrew’s permission slip? I can take that.”

Ok.  Your turn.  What's your character's favorites? loves? strengths? fears? mistakes?