Sunday, March 30, 2014

COSCBWI Meeting March 2014: Character Craft Activity

This month's COSCBWI meeting took members back to the days of kindergarten scissors and glue sticks with a fun arts-and-crafts activity!

Have you ever been writing or illustrating and come to a roadblock where you just don't feel like you know your character very well?  Maybe she's in front of a snack machine and you have no idea what she'd buy, or she's wishing she was somewhere else and you don't know if that place should be a wild jungle or her favorite aunt's house?

Assistant Regional Advisor, Andrea Hall, shared a fun activity that can get you thinking about your character on a level beyond the color of her hair and eyes.  All you need is a pair of scissors, glue, and some magazines you don't mind chopping up.  And what do you get when you mix those three things together?  A collage!

There are many ways to become more acquainted with your character, from writing letters to them to experimenting with free-writing exercises.  But collages get you out of the "writer's mind" and into something more visual.  All you have to do is leaf through some magazines with an open mind, gathering pictures and words that fit your character.  They can be images of setting elements from your story, clothes they would wear, and food they would eat.  They can be words that describe them, or plot points in their journey.  You may even discover something surprising about them that you didn't know before, or land on the perfect picture that shows them from head to toe.  Put them all together, and you've got a handy reference for all your writing and illustrating needs.

There was a lot of giggling and excitement as members grabbed their supplies and spent the meeting creating collages.  This is the collage I made about Shrimp, a character in my novel, Pirate Ferret.  He's a young boy with a heart for adventure.  My collage shows some places he goes in my novel, words that describe him, and elements of the story.  (But alas, no ferrets.  While I found plenty of lipstick ads and high-heeled shoes, I just couldn't find a single ferret picture while leafing through Cosmopolitan...)  You can take your own collage in any direction you choose.  Just follow your heart (and scissors) and have fun with it!

If you'd like to learn more about COSCBWI, be sure to check out the Facebook group and the new (still work in progress) website at  I hope to see you at next month's meetings on April 9th and 23rd!

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