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An update from our fifty-fourth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, February 4

This week, we discussed another fundamental building block of writing: characterization. Characterization is how a character is revealed through language, or the "'dramatic' methods writers use to imply the qualities of characters," Conner explained. Indirect characterization is a way of describing a character according to what he or she does, and this is where we turned our focus today. We read three examples in literature, including Cathy's first appearance in John Steinbeck's East of Eden, in which her manner of chewing meat with her front teeth is described and no mention of her physical appearance is made. Because most people begin with physical descriptions, it is more interesting to begin with behavioral descriptions when introducing a character, Conner advised. As a mini-challenge, Conner then gave students three adjectives—creepy, arrogant, and shy—and one minute to write one sentence for each in which they used indirect characterization to reveal a character who embodied that adjective.

The Challenge: Write a "meet" scene (in which one character meets another character), focusing on the details that each character notices about the other. Think about action rather than how they look!

The Participants: Anushka, Amaya, Samarina, Yueling, Emma, Katelyn, Ava, Aarush, Lindsay, Genevieve, Lucy, Jacey, Catherine, Stella

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