Creative Writing! Describing a Person



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Creative Writing!

Describing a Person

  • Fill in the blanks on the hand-out provided to create a word bank of adjectives.
  • You can use these to describe different characters in the coming classes.
  • *(Exam Writing Skills p.30/31)

Describing a Celebrity

  • Mystery Celebrity
  • Expression
  • Hair
  • Tall? Small?
  • Face
  • Any other heading
  • Any unusual feature
  • Build
  • Voice
  • Eyes
  • Brainstorm words under the following headings:
  • Do not write the person’s name!

Describing a Celebrity

  • WRITE the description of your chosen celebrity.
  • Do not tell anyone the celebrity you have chosen.
  • Do not say what your chosen celebrity does for a living.

Over to You!

  • Read your description of a celebrity aloud to the class and see who can guess the person.
  • The better your description is, the easier it will be for others to guess!

Describe a Shopkeeper

  • Charlie Rabbite, a moody, irritable man who owned the pet shop, was tall, skinny and bony, with coarse, wiry hair and beady little brown eyes. His rough hands and fingernails were veined and sharp like the claws of the birds he sold. He wore steel-rimmed glasses that gave him a sinister, cruel look.
  • Charley had a high-pitched, shrieking voice that frightened small children and annoyed most customers. When he got angry or impatient, little flecks of spit would come shooting from his thin lips as he snarled orders and frowned his wrinkled forehead.

Describe a Shopkeeper

  • Find examples from the piece where the writer:
  • Uses a comparison
  • Uses adjectives to describe his personality
  • Uses adjectives to describe his build, hair, eyes, hands, fingernails, glasses, look
  • Uses interesting details to help the reader imagine him
  • Describes how children and customers reacted to him
  • Uses adjectives to describe the sound of his voice

Describe a Shopkeeper: Over to You!

  • Based on the model above, write your own description of a shopkeeper.
  • Make a six-box chart first using headings (a) – (e) to plan your paragraphs.
  • Write two paragraphs.
  • Your shopkeeper can either be similar to Charley Rabbite or a very different kind of person.

Sample Exam Question and Answer

  • The following story shows you how to use your skill in creating a character in an exam essay question.
  • Sample Exam Question:
  • You are a checkout operator in a filling station. Write an extract from your diary.

Checkout Operator’s Diary

  • Tell the reader about your job.
  • Set the scene:
  • WHERE?
  • WHEN?
  • WHO?
  • I work part-time on the checkout at my local filling station; Saturday mornings 8 to 12 and Sunday afternoon 3 to 7. You may think this is a boring job for moronic people with no qualifications, but let me tell you how wrong you are. In this job anything can happen and you have to deal with tough situations. There is a block of apartments opposite this garage and some very strange people live in them. You would not believe how badly some people behave when they come into this shop.

Checkout Operator’s Diary

  • Name and describe the difficult person.
  • Let me tell you about Mrs Agatha Hatchett, a nasty, sour-tempered, skinny woman with frizzy grey hair, beady little green eyes and lips as thin as barbed wire. She comes in every day at lunchtime when we’re busy, just to give out about something. However, she has not been in for a while. Let me tell you why …

Checkout Operator’s Diary

  • Start the story.
  • Write some dialogue.
  • Saturday morning, 11.30am.
  • The shop is really busy. In comes Agatha, demanding a token for the car wash, without a Please or Thank you.
  • Five minutes later she is back. She snarls at me in her irritating high-pitched sing-song voice:
  • “There were no suds in that water so my car isn’t washed.”
  • I explain that our car wash is low lather so you don’t see suds, but your car is washed. She spits when she talks and keeps wagging her bony fingers and chipped black fingernails as she shrieks again, “There were no suds in the water so my car isn’t washed!”

Checkout Operator’s Diary

  • Develop the plot.
  • A queue is building up behind her. Even the sweet, smiling old man who comes in every Saturday to buy a box of Dairy Milk for his wife looks annoyed. I give her another token so she can wash her car again but I tell her not to expect to see suds.
  • Out she goes. Two minutes later, at the door of the shop behind the long queue, I hear her.
  • “I’m soaked!” she roars.

Checkout Operator’s Diary

  • Introduce other characters.
  • Describe their reactions.
  • She is standing there, dripping water from everywhere, her clothes and hair drenched. Other customers in the queue look astonished. A little girl giggles. Agatha drips, splish-splash, up the shop. She says she got out of her car in the wash to pull in the side mirror and she was washed by the rollers.

Checkout Operator’s Diary

  • Lead up to a climax
  • I decide it is time for help so I got inside and speak to Roman, my manager, a tall, burly man with a serious expression and a calm voice. He walks out to the shop and immediately almost falls back into the office, so she won’t see his shocked reaction to the sight of a woman who looks like she has thrown herself fully dresses into a swimming pool.

Checkout Operator’s Diary

  • Bring the story to an end.
  • The cold and the wet must have shocked her because she left without another word and has not been seen in the shop since. Can you imagine anything as scary as being flattened against your car door as huge, wet, noisy rollers swish and swirl behind you?

Top Tips!

  • Read back through the essay and note:
  • The focus on descriptive details
  • The different ways the character Agatha is described
  • The simple storyline of the essay. It is not overloaded with action, rather the focus is on telling the straightforward story well.
  • The way the storyline builds to a definite conclusion.

Over to You: Describe a Difficult Customer

  • You are EITHER:
  • A traffic warden OR
  • A doorman at a nightclub OR
  • A garda
  • Write an extract from your diary. Include a description of a difficult person you deal with.

Over to You: Describe a Difficult Customer

  • Follow the paragraph instructions in the sample story you already read. These instructions are in the boxes that follow.
  • Paragraph One
  • Tell the reader about your job.
  • Set the scene:
  • WHERE?
  • WHEN?
  • WHO?
  • Paragraph Two
  • Name and describe the difficult person
  • Paragraph Three
  • Start the story.
  • Include some dialogue in the story.
  • Paragraph Four
  • Develop the plot
  • Paragraph Five
  • Introduce other characters.
  • Describe their reactions.
  • Paragraph Six
  • Lead up to a climax
  • Paragraph Seven
  • Bring the story to an end

Alone in a Dark City Street

  • Model Story:
  • Rewrite the following paragraphs in full filling in the missing words
  • Writing full paragraphs may be tiring but it is better examination practice that just writing missing words!

Paragraph 1: The Dark Street

  • vanished clouds terror ghostly
  • swung shoulder whites one
  • deserted faster lights
  • The street was ………… and the night felt eerie and silent. The darkness surrounded him as the street ……… went out one by ……….. and heavy ……….. covered the moon. When he looked over his ………. , he thought he could barely see the ……… of eyes and a ………..face and stocky body about ten feet behind him. When he ……….. around to confront it, the whole thing ……….. He walked a little …………., and glanced again over his shoulder, trying not to show the ………. he felt.

Paragraph 2: A whistling starts …

  • whispered glimmer daring weak trickled hear churned sinister
  • Then the whistling started, very ……….. and high-pitched, but coming closer. Sweat ………… down his back, his stomach ………., and his knees felt …………, but still he hurried on, not ………… to look behind him now. “Stay calm,” he ………... to himself. There was no …………. of light ahead, and he knew he was far from help. No one would …………… if he screamed.

Paragraph 3: Panic!

  • bashed desperately closing hammering cracks definitely
  • soft footsteps surrounded trickling
  • Suddenly, he heard ……… It was a ………, gentle sound, so it did not seem so frightening. But wait, listen a moment. Yes, it had a rhythm. It was …….. footsteps. Were they in front or behind? The sound was so strange, it was hard to tell. They seemed to be ………. in on him from different sides, getting faster and louder as they ………. him. His heart was ………. Sweat was now ……….. from his forehead. In panic, he began to run, blindly. He …… into bins and lampposts, tripping over ……….. in the path, ………….looking for some light or help or anywhere he could feel safe.

Over to You: Alone in a Dark City Street

  • Write your own three paragraphs entitled “Alone in a Dark City Street”
  • BRAINSTORM words and phrases to describe a dark, lonely street. Use phrases from the model story to help you.

Alone in a Dark City Street

  • Dark City Street
  • Rattling bin lids
  • Broken street lamps
  • Food cartons in gutter
  • Hammering heart
  • Shadows in doorway
  • Cats in the alley
  • Ambulance sirens
  • Burglar alarms sounding
  • Rats scurrying from drains
  • Whistling noise
  • Sound of glass shattering
  • Papers blowing in the wind
  • Cans rolling along kerb
  • Police patrol cars

Alone in a Dark City Street

  • Paragraph One: Set the scene. Describe the time and place, and present a character on the street.
  • Paragraph Two: Start the story and build the tension. Maybe there are strange noises. Your character starts to feel afraid…
  • Paragraph Three: Lead up to a climax. Describe your character’s panic and terror.

Write a Short Story

  • A short story must include:
  • Exposition: background information on characters and/or setting. May include information about events that happened before the story began.
  • Conflict: A problem or obstacle that has to be dealt with. This essentially means that something must actually happen in the story – it cannot be purely descriptive.
  • Climax: The point where all the strands of the story come together and the conflict of the story is resolved. There is a turning point of some kind, for better or worse.
  • Resolution: The conclusion of the short story, where the events are brought to a close. Your story can have any end you like – happy, sad, mysterious etc. – but it must be a clear and obvious end to the story.

Skills needed to write a story

  • A storyteller has to create characters that you can imagine and believe. He or she must also describe the place where the story takes place and make up a plot that keeps you interested from page one till the end of the story.

Skills needed to write a story

Plan a story in sections

  • Introduction: Where? When? Who?
  • Describe the place where your story begins
  • Give the year/month/season/time of day
  • Who are your main characters? Give them names
  • Hint: use names of people/places from books or films if you’re stuck!

Start the story

  • What is this place like?
  • What happens there?
  • What is life like for people?
  • Hint: describe the season or weather to create an atmosphere. Suggest a mystery or secret.

Develop the plot

  • Is there some drama or a problem to face?
  • Add more to the story, keep the reader interested as characters change.
  • Hint: give your characters a problem to face.

Build up tension: lead to a climax.

  • Work on the storyline. Move characters into new situations.
  • Something unexpected or dramatic happens.
  • Hint: make the readers feel emotion.

Bring the story to an end

  • Round off so that your reader has a sense of a proper ending
  • You could refer back to little details in the story
  • You could tell the reader how life turned out for each of the characters
  • Hint: the last paragraph can sound like a voice over that hear at the end of a film!

Ideas for rounding story off

  • Do the characters go on a journey or come home?
  • Are they reunited with their families?
  • Have they grown up or grown older?
  • Have they learned anything?

Writing a Story from a Photograph

  • Many exam questions will ask you to write a story inspired by a photograph or picture.
  • We will practice how to brainstorm ideas around a photograph and create a story out of it!

Writing a Story from a Photograph

  • The trick when brainstorming is to ask yourself as many questions as you can think of about the photograph.
  • Then you come up with the answers!

Girl on a Journey

  • Name:
  • Date of Birth:
  • Place of birth:
  • Nationality:
  • Fill in her airport form:
  • Home Address: ……………………………………………………
  • Address in country of destination:………………………………………..
  • She has a letter in her bag. Who is it from? What does it say?
  • She is very talented in a sport OR in music. Give details.
  • What time, day, month is it?
  • What is the reason for her journey?
  • What has she packed in her case?
  • Is she a student/has she got a job? What school or college does she attend/what does she do?
  • What language does she speak?
  • What is her favourite film?
  • There is a secret or mystery in her past. What is it?
  • She has an older brother and a younger sister. Name them.

Young Offender

  • Name:
  • Date of Birth:
  • Place of birth:
  • Nationality:
  • Prison address: ……………………………………………………
  • Home address: ……………………………………………………
  • How long has he been in prison? How long has he to serve?
  • What language(s) does he speak?
  • Is this his first sentence?
  • He has an old photograph in his cell. Where was it taken? Who was in it?
  • What is his favourite food? Favourite music? Favourite film?
  • What are his parents’ names? Where are they?
  • Who visits him?
  • He writes a letter every week. To whom does he write?
  • Why do you think the photographer took the photo from this angle?

Write a Story from a Photograph

  • Choose one of the essay plans that you have completed (either Girl on a Journey OR Young Offender) and use it to write a full essay.

Write a Short Story: A Soldier’s Christmas Eve

  • Always do a brainstorm or a plan before you begin writing.
  • If you don’t know what story you are trying to tell it will very quickly lose structure and you will lose marks!
  • BRAINSTORM: Where? When? Who? Names of characters?
  • WHERE does your story happen?
  • WHEN does it happen?
  • In Belgium, in the trenches, near a battlefield.
  • It will also describe the home places of the soldiers in the trenches
  • In 1915, during World War I.
  • It is the 24th of December, the night before the second Christmas of the war.
  • WHO are your characters?
  • WHAT are their names?
  • Soldiers fighting on the British side in World War I.
  • One of them is a young Irish teenager who lied about his age to join up. He is the central character in the story.
  • Others are English and Welsh soldiers. There are also some characters back home.
  • Christy Murphy (Irish)
  • Alfie Gordon (Welsh)
  • George Foster (English)
  • WHAT is happening as the story starts?
  • The soldiers are lying in the darkness and cold, thinking of Christmas back home. They hear singing. Across No Man’s Land, the German soldiers are singing Silent Night.

Write the Story in 8 Paragraphs

  • It is December 24th 1915. Sixteen-year-old Private Christy Murphy, who comes from Kilmallock, a tiny village in Ireland, is far from home, in Belgium. It is the depths of winter and he is cold and miserable, lying in a trench with his soldier comrades.

Paragraph 1: Introduction – Where? When? Who?

  • It is Christmas Eve, 1915. Private Christy Murphy is ……….. from home. He is cold and …………, thinking of the …………. and the ……….. fire in Kilmallock. While his family are getting ready for midnight mass, he is ……….. in a ……………. field. The ……….. firing that had been going on all day stopped about an hour ago. The medics have gone out into ………… Man’s Land to ring back the dead and ………….. In the distance he can hear …………. soldiers singing Stille Nacht.

Paragraph 2: Where? When? Who? – Tell the readers more

  • WRITE two more sentences to complete paragraph 2 of Christy’s story:
  • huddle icy rough snowflakes swollen starry
  • aching wind heavy crunches khaki
  • Christy’s ……… uniform is too big for him. Snow and rain have made it damp and …………, and it is chilling his …………. bones. His socks and boots feel ………… and sore on his …………., freezing feet. When he looks up, he sees the ………… night, the full moon and the ………… falling softly against the black sky. It is bitingly cold and the soldiers ……… down in the trench to avoid the freezing ……………. When the men pass through the trench, the snow ………. under their boots. There are deep holes where they fall knee deep into the ………… slush. ……………………………………………………………………
  • ……………………………………………………………………….........

Paragraph 3: Start the story

  • WRITE these opening sentences and then complete paragraph 3:
  • At sixteen, Christy is the youngest soldier in this battalion. When he came to join up, he told the recruiting officer he was eighteen. Although he read it 5 minutes ago, he puts his hand in his top pocket and takes out the letter again ….

SOME IDEAS FOR PARAGRAPH 3

  • There is a letter in his top pocket that he keeps taking out and reading over and over. Who is it from and what does it say?
  • He is hoping for some news in January. What is it?
  • He carries two other things that are important to him in his backpack. What are they?
  • How many brothers and sisters does he have? Is there anyone he misses most?
  • He is remembering Christmas at home. He used to love Christmas Eve, when his mother would put the Christmas cake on the kitchen table and leave a glass of whiskey for his little brother to think Santa had drunk it.

Paragraph 4: Develop the plot

  • There are other soldiers in the trenches. Who are they? What else is happening?
  • WRITE three or four more sentences to complete paragraph 4:
  • Before he came to Belgium, Christy had never spent a night away from home and had never met anyone who was not Irish. Now he knew Alfie Gordon from Swansea, who was eighteen and had worked down the mines before he joined up. George Foster, a mechanic from Manchester, was the same age as Christy’s father and had a sixteen-year-old son of his own. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………........

SOME IDEAS FOR PARAGRAPH 4

  • Who else is in the trenches near him? What are their names? How old are they? Where are they from? What did they do before they joined up?
  • In this paragraph you could write a short conversation between Christy and another soldier from England, each talking about Christmas in their home place.
  • He carries two other things that are important to him in his backpack. What are they?
  • In the distance they can still hear the sounds of the German soldiers singing Still Nacht. Describe the sound coming nearer.

Paragraph 5: Build up the tension

  • WRITE these opening sentences and then complete paragraph 5:
  • The soldiers began to sing …………… The Welsh soldiers had trained voices and it sounded like being in church. Their singing reminded Christy of home …
  • …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………........

SOME IDEAS FOR PARAGRAPH 5

  • After a while, the soldiers in the trenches begin to sing also. What do they sing?
  • Describe how the soldiers (who have been listening to shelling and gunfire all day) feel when they hear the enemy soldiers singing Christmas carols.
  • What effect does it have on Christy when he hears Silent Night sung by the German soldiers and then the Welsh soldiers?
  • What is he thinking of and remembering now?

Paragraph 6 and 7: Lead to a climax

  • WRITE this opening sentence and then complete paragraphs 6 and 7:
  • Christy had never felt so homesick in his life …

SOME IDEAS FOR PARAGRAPHS 6 AND 7

  • Bring the story to a climax. The singing comes nearer. Soldiers raise their heads above the trench to look in the distance. What happens then? There could be a very emotional moment. Something dramatic could happen here.
  • Brainstorm as many ideas as you can. You can then choose one idea that will work best in your story.
  • Does a sniper’s bullet kill Christy?
  • Does he go into No Man’s Land and bring back a body?
  • Does he save someone else and win a Victoria Cross for bravery?
  • Does he meet the German soldiers and drink whiskey with other young men who are homesick for cities like Berlin and Hamburg or for little villages in Germany?

SOME IDEAS FOR PARAGRAPHS 6 AND 7

  • Christy’s family will soon receive a letter.
  • It will either be from him or from someone writing about him.
  • What will it say?

Paragraph 8: Bring the story to an end

  • WRITE this opening sentence and then complete paragraph 8:
  • It is 10am on Christmas morning, 1915 …

SOME IDEAS FOR PARAGRAPH 8

  • Read back over what you have written so far. Your last paragraph rounds off the story.
  • How have things changed for the soldiers in your story?
  • Which characters are you going to name again in the last paragraph?
  • Can you use some words or phrases from the first paragraph in your ending?

Congratulations!

  • You have successfully completed the following pieces of work:
  • Describing a celebrity
  • Describing a shopkeeper
  • Describing a difficult customer
  • Alone in a Dark City Street
  • A story from a photograph
  • A short story: A Soldier’s Christmas Eve
  • You are now an accomplished writer!


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