This program is made possible through a generous gift from Ruth and Russell Bolton
in conjunction with the Eberly College of Arts & Sciences.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sketchy Characters

In Arnold's last Bolton meeting, we discussed our favorite characters and why we love them. These loves of ours ranged from Ron Weasley, "ginger representative" (said enthusiastically and coupled with a fist pump) to Gatsby, because "he's a boss." When creating characters, our goal is to present a captivating person whose presence, appearance, quirks, and mannerisms will stick with readers, and keep dragging them back to the page.

After chatting, I explained the workshop would be dedicated to character sketches. I passed out blank sheets of paper, and a couple of groans surfaced. A reluctant voice from afar mumbled, "We're not drawing again are we?" Laughter, and I joined. I'll be honest. I wanted to mess with them a little; a character sketch is when you draw a character with number two pencils . . . Just kidding! I informed them they wouldn't, in fact, be drawing. After a "phew," I continued. They would be introducing a character in a moment in time--with words. Ideally, character sketches give the audience a strong mental image of the character, how they speak, their way of doing things, and an idea of their value system. It's called a sketch, because it avoids the character's whole history.

But what were flying papers about in my sneak-peek reminder blog? Well, it was how they found their inspiration! How the flying papers went down: Each person sat with a piece of paper in front of them. First, I asked them to write a place and a first name, then pass. Second, I asked them to write a last name, then pass. Third, I asked them to write three physical attributes, two adjectives, two nouns, and two verbs, then pass. Fourth, I asked them to write an everyday task, two lines of dialogue, and three lines of interior monologue, then pass. Fifth, I asked them to write one deep, dark secret, and one no-no, something the character would never do, then pass one last time.

With the paper they held in their hand, that amalgamation of information, the Arnoldite Boltoneers' jobs were to create memorable characters, and did we meet some characters! Roxanne Jarvis, a tall, green-eyed chain-smoking people-watcher. Sean Mizkophski, a mysterious red-haired man, who grew up on the streets with his mom, and would never ever hit a woman. Eve Boviar, a shy girl with blue-streaked hair, who must shower every morning and every night to function. And Masha Meduzot, a sterile green-and-gold-eyed woman, who has fallen in love with her brother.

With that said, it has been a fun and creative semester at Arnold with some interesting and talented characters. I look forward to seeing everyone at the Bolton Showcase! Thank you for the great year.

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