Writing Mini-Lessons: Character Exploration, Stepping into the Picture

Another way to begin to develop a character is to practice envisioning the lives of unknown people or characters in images.  We can look at a work of art or watch people anywhere, at Starbuck’s, at the ball game, on the bus, and start to imagine the fine details of their lives—what makes them tick.

Here are some questions to employ, independently or with a partner, to begin to unveil the inner workings of character.  When you are working with a partner, answer these questions orally.  What other questions would you ask and answer?

  1. What is his/her name?
  2. How old is s/he?
  3. What is his/her occupation?
  4. What is his/her personality like?
  5. What education has s/he had?
  6. What are his/her hobbies?
  7. What is his/her most cherished possession?
  8. What is his/her greatest fear?
  9. What does s/he do with friends on Thursday night?
  10. Where would s/he like to travel?
  11. What secret does s/he keep?
  12. What is his/her favorite music?
  13. What does s/he long for?
  14. What is something s/he would never do in public?

Below are three renowned Impressionist works to start you “stepping into the picture” to develop character. In an image with multiple characters, focus on one or two.

Manet-Bar_at_the_Folies-Bergere
renoir luncheon of the boating party
Pierre-Auguste_Renoir,_Bal du_Moulin_de_la_Galette