Creative writing activity for group/workshop

Diary of a Somebody

Objectives

adopting someone’s ‘voice’

filling in the gaps in a short diary entry

Organisation

whole group, then individual writing

Example

Alan Bennet’s ‘Talking Heads’

Materials

three slips of paper per participant

one slightly larger piece of paper per participant

Notes

  1. The steps which are meant to create a character can be left out or up to the students. The advantage of making them write from a characterisation they didn’t write themselves is that if they fail they can blame it on the luck of the draw.
  2. for the creation of the character the participants need to be told, for once not to go for the zany and to create a character who is reasonably life-like.

Procedure

On three slips of paper write three short diary entries. They can be very limited in their informational content, quite general or as specific as you want to be. On the back write the dates (they don’t matter but ensure that you can’t pick your own diary entries).

The diary entries are laid out, face down (so you can only see the dates). Pick three (or as many as you contributed), obviously not your own.

Now on a seperate piece of paper create a character as follows:

  1. write down a person’s name, the gender (if it isn’t obvious from the name) and an age. Pass the paper on.
  2. write down her/his job. Pass the paper on.
  3. write down her/his marital status and what is noteworthy about her/his relationship(s).Pass the paper on.
  4. write down what the person’s proudest achievement is. Pass the paper on.
  5. write down what the person’s greatest disappointment is. Pass the paper on.
  6. write down what the person’s greatest ambition is. Pass the paper on.
  7. write down a striking feature either psychological or physical. Pass the paper on.

Now pick one of the diary entries that would go with the person you’ve just received.

Write a monologue (perhaps in the form of a short story or a poem) using the voice of ‘your’ person about what happened on the day you picked the diary entry for.



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