#SOL18: March 6

Screenshot 2018-03-05 at 8.35.26 PM

Character Development

She fidgeted, first pulling on the jacket sleeves so they covered her wrists and then sliding to the edge of the red vinyl stool so one foot could reach the floor.  Movement stilled, looking around to the right and then to the left.

Her left hand stretched to the condiment box.  She grabbed two sugars, the colored fake ones, pocketed one and emptied another into her coffee cup.  She stirred.  The spoon spun around the cup.  Once. Twice. Three times. She set the spoon quietly on a napkin on top of the saucer.  She took a small sip, set the cup down and made a face.

Moving again.  This time her toes tapped the floor.  No discernible rhythm but a worrisome motion. Turning, following the signal of the bell, watching the door open and close as a customer left. Picking up the menu.  Looking at it for fifteen seconds.  Putting it back.

Looking at the window, checking her reflection, primping her hair, and straightening her collar.  Pulling on her sleeves again. Jean jacket with frayed sleeves over tee shirt and yoga pants.  Flip flops on her feet.  Not really dressed for the winter weather but seemingly okay for the inside of the diner.

(Scene 1)

Can you picture her? 

What should come next? 

a) Another character? 

b) Introduction of the problem? 

c) More about this character (including her name)?

d) Other and please list ______? 

How do you develop your characters?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016


19 responses

  1. She heard the bell ring in the room behind the counter. The grill. The ancient telephone hanging off the wall. A shuffling noise, and then a rough voice barking back.
    “Yes. Ten minutes.”
    And then, after a pause, the sound of the grill, sizzling. The girl thumbs the menu again, looking at the door.
    Ten minutes.
    A lifetime to wonder. She wanders over to the window. Her toes wiggle in her summer sandals. Snow is now falling. She’s not worried. The cold never bothered her. Ever. She could walk barefoot in a squall, her grandmother used to say. When you never know winter, and suddenly find winter, you never want to lose it. That’s what she thinks. Her grandmother argued otherwise, calling winter’s snow nothing more than another wall put in their way to a better life.
    More sounds from the grill. Singing. He’s singing that song again, in Spanish, about going home to Mexico. She likes the melody but not the message. She won’t be going back home to Mexico, although she misses her Mama and her sister.
    “Order up!” and she’s back to the counter, keeping one eye on the shadow on the door while reaching out for the bag from grill.
    “Gracias,” she says, as if it were food for her. She can’t help being polite. She’s grateful for the job.


    1. Wow!
      Thanks, Kevin. You took it even farther!

  2. I love the imagery woven into your words. I wanted to know what would happen next as well.

    1. Right now, I still don’t know. I have three possibilities in mind but it’s still just a work in progress!

  3. Sally Donnelly | Reply

    Wow!! What a treat. A thoroughly captivating hook…my mind could see her but still I wanted to know more! Then a treat – to read Kevin’s continuation. Such a great exercise. I may need to return to this later today. For now, I’ll replay your diner scene and think about her next moves in my story continuation. This would make a GREAT part of a chapter on writing in a book for teachers. Maybe you should work on your book pitch to Heinemann!

    1. Sally, just a quick illustration of the power of collaboration as a writer. What if more time was spent on thinking about how to develop some alternate story lines . . . Like choose your own adventure. Would students dig in and do that work?

  4. I think this would be a great activity for a workshop. It would be interesting to not only hear where others think you should go with the writing but also their rationale for why their choice should come next.

  5. Fran, this is a lovely slice. The significant detail you include, as well as the cropped sentence fragments. Personally, I’m a big fan of lean writing like this. Love Kevin’s continuation! So much fun! Thanks, as always, for sharing your writing!

    1. Thanks, Lanny. And yes to Kevin’s continuation. He’s always amazing! So much fun to “play” and write with this community! ❤

  6. This instantly makes me want to try this! What an incredible idea. This would also be a great tool to take back to my fellow colleagues to do as well. This is gold!

    1. Thanks,
      I’m actually going to use this tomorrow with teachers. Thinking about one use . . . continue the story as a part of “jump starting a reluctant” writer, or to allow a student to be able to continue to develop a character in a story, or to add additional scenes in more of an “assessment mode”!

  7. […] Scene 2 (see March 6 for the beginning here)  […]

  8. Well done, Fran! Your scene drew me in immediately. The precise details, (the sugar, her clothes…) as well as her movements (why so fidgety?) make me feel as if I’m there in the diner. I’m dying to know what the problem is!

    1. Me, too. Several possibilities . . .

  9. […] (Scene 1, Scenes 2 and 3, and then Scene 3 ended with: […]

  10. […] from Scene 1, Scene 2 & 3, and Scene […]

  11. […] from Scene 1, Scene 2 & 3, Scene 4, and  Scene […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Hands Down, Speak Out

Listening and Talking Across Literacy and Math

Teachers | Books | Readers

Thirty-One Educators Connecting Students and Books

Educator *Speaker *Author*coach

We have the perfect words. Write when you need them. www.carlambrown.com

Curriculum Coffee

A Written Shot of Espresso

Mrs. Palmer Ponders

Noticing and celebrating life's moments of any size.


Seeking Ways to Grow Proficient, Motivated, Lifelong Readers & Writers

Doing The Work That Matters

a journey of growing readers & writers

Present Perfect

adventures in multiple tenses

Leadership Connection

from Great Prairie AEA

The Blue Heron (Then Sings My Soul)

The oft bemused (or quite simply amused) musings of Krista Marx -- a self-professed HOPE pursuing Pollyanna

Middle English

Life as an English teacher leader

steps in the literacy journey

Walking the Path to Literacy Together


Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Resource - Full

Sharing Ideas, Strategies and Tools

Joel Pedersen

be that #oneperson


All Things Literacy! Brianna Parlitsis


A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

elsie tries writing

"The problem with people is they forget that that most of the time it's the small things that count." (Said by Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are my small things that count.

%d bloggers like this: