Character development in creative writing
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Character Development in Creative Writing. Core Standard: 11 th Grade Composition Section 3.1.a.ii: Use narrative techniques such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines to develop characters.

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  • Core Standard: 11th Grade Composition Section 3.1.a.ii:

  • Use narrative techniques such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines to develop characters.

(Probably the coolest special effects I’ve ever seen in this scene of Return of the King)

The Protagonist

  • Dynamic and well integrated throughout the text

  • Plotline would be unsubstantial without this character

  • Overcomes multiple obstacles, or one huge barrier in interior self or external forces

Activity 1

(Frodo is certainly the main protagonist in The Lord of the Rings—without his story, there would be no beginning, middle, or end)

The allies

  • Help the protagonist succeed

  • Usually dynamic characters themselves, overcoming some sort of obstacle related or separate to theprotagonist

(Even though the fellowship “fails” its intended purpose in the story, these characters remain crucial allies to Frodo throughout the trilogy and help tell the tale of Middle Earth)

Having multiple protagonists

  • Set in omniscient third-person point of view, switching between these characters in narrative

  • Each character thoroughly integrated and crucial to the story

  • Reserved for long, epic stories/series

(Aragorn, Pippin, and Merry can be considered separate protagonists from Frodo, since the books/films follow their stories in Middle Earth as dutifully as Frodo’s)

Activity 2

The Antagonist

  • The antagonist, though often the villain, is defined as the character who defies/gets in the way of the protagonist’s goals

  • There are often multiple antagonists within a story at different periods, but the main antagonist is dynamic, motivated, and well-integrated

  • Has a backstory, usually exists before the protagonist comes into the picture

  • A good antagonist usually has tempting and interesting parts to their character—not “fully evil” like Sauron

(Sauron depicts the classic villain, a form of pure evil, and therefore is considered a “flat” antagonist. The One Ring, Sauron’s form of antagonism, provides the more complicated arena of the “good” antagonist)

The minions

(The orcs from Mordor (most common in Return of the King), or the “Uruk-hai” from Isengard (Fellowship of the Ring and Two Towers) are the “minions” represented in mass)

  • These are the antagonist’s “sidekicks,” followers in flat, unimportant characters or in mass

Having multiple antagonists

Activity 3

  • Loyal, dynamic followers of the main antagonist

  • Usually provide separate obstacles to the protagonist/s or allies than the antagonist, but both work towards a common goal

(Saruman, the evil wizard who rules Isengard, is the most dynamic antagonist in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Another antagonist could be the Lich King, leader of the Ring Wraiths)

Other Characters

  • Holds both a progressive and hindrance role

  • Goes through extensive character transformations

  • Strong emotional connection to the audience

(Gollum is a form of “other” character. He is crucial for Frodo’s success, but he also turns into a mighty villain. The internal fight between Gollum/Smeagol adds tension.

Secondary vs. Primary Characters

Activity 4

  • Primary characters relate to the protagonists and antagonists, those who have dynamic, well-integrated development in the story (Frodo, Sauron, Aragorn)

  • Secondary characters are all others who contribute, but do not have extensive development (Sam, Arwin, Gandalf)

Creating Good Dialogue

  • Each word significant to another character

  • Has purpose and relevancy

  • Progresses character development, plotline, and setting

(Dialogue between Arwin, Elrond, and Aragorn is particularly powerful, since it alters Arwin’s fate in Middle Earth)

Character Obstacles

Frodo endures many hardships on his journey to Mordor, but no struggle is as grueling and conflicting than his internal love/hate relationship to the One Ring and the power is has over him. Having characters go through internal struggles like this instead of purely external obstacles creates well-rounded, more interesting human experiences in stories.

Character Resolutions

  • Well-rounded, realistic conclusions

  • Can be both happy or tragic

  • Addresses all protagonists and antagonists

Activity 5

(A very happy ending for Aragorn, who becomes the King of Gondor, and Arwin, the elvin princess)

How the bad guy falls

  • Easiest to overlook in any story

  • Must be thorough, realistic, and satisfying for the reader

  • Must relate well to every antagonist and protagonist in the story

  • Not all hindrances to the protagonist need be resolved, but the protagonist needs to somehow succeed

(The Lord of the Rings trilogy had a very thorough, final ending—all evil had been destroyed and only goodness prevailed. Not all stories need to be as permanently final)

Emotional connection

  • All characters must have some sort of emotional connection to themselves or others

  • Must have an emotional struggle of some sort to relate audience to character

  • Most crucial point in any character development

(The friendship between Frodo and Sam is truly profound, since it changes and is tested throughout the trilogy)