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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise:
Characterization (v. 4)

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by: Florence Cardinal
Posted on: Sun, 11 Feb 2001
Reposted on: Sun, 8 Dec 2002
Reposted, revised, on: Sun, 9 Apr 2006
Reposted, revised, on: Sun, 4 May 2008
Reposted, revised, on: Sun, 25 Oct 2009
Reposted on: Sun, 24 July 2011
Reposted on: Sun, 21 July 2013
Reposted on: Sun, 31 August 2014

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Exercise: In 400 words or less describe someone so that we feel that we know him or her. Don't rely on descriptions such as, "he had red hair," "she was about 70," or "he was tall." Avoid general terms like "beautiful, ugly, fat or thin." SHOW us that red-haired, tall, thin, ugly man.

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What can you show us about this character's place in the world, his/her goals, achievements, dreams or fears that will let us see the individual? Use the whole bag of writer's tricks--description, satire, exaggeration, dialogue, or other characters as foils to help us to see this individual. You don't have to tell a whole story; but if you do find a story taking shape, that's fine.

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Exercise: In 400 words or less describe someone so that we feel that we know him or her. Don't rely on descriptions such as, "he had red hair," "she was about 70," or "he was tall." Avoid general terms like "beautiful, ugly, fat or thin." SHOW us that red-haired, tall, thin, ugly man.

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When critiquing, consider how much you know about the character and discuss how the author achieved this portrait. What specific tools were used to create the character we see? How much do you know about how this person thinks. Would you like to know more about this individual? Keep an eye open for "telling."


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Modified by Gayle Surrette.