A hunch is a feeling or impression that something is about to happen. Authors sometimes use a character’s hunches to create suspense or to tie together a group of events. For example, in “Stains,” the mother has been afraid for her son “for a long time. She realized that when the doorbell rang at 4 a.m.”
Write a story about a character’s hunches. Try to use this hunch not only to create suspense, but to help explain the action that comes at the end of the story.
Masks are intriguing because they serve some interesting purposes. When you put on a mask, you do one of many things: transform your character, hide your identity, or protect yourself. Everyone has worn a mask at some point in life. When was the last time you wore a mask? How did it feel to have a mask on in that situation?
The concept of character masks refers to the circumstance that, in human societies, people can take on functions in which they “act out” roles, whether voluntarily chosen, by necessity, or forced. In those roles, some or all of their true characteristics and intentions may be partly or wholly masked, so that they appear different from what they truly are – “public face” and “private thoughts, interests and emotions” diverge. Also, their activity may have broader social effects that they would rather not know about, which they wish to be unknown or presented in a certain light, or which they are unaware of, and therefore the effects are mentally disconnected from their real causes.
If you could bring one fictional character to life for a day, who would you choose? Perhaps someone from a book, a movie, or a TV show?
Read a book – fiction or non-fiction. During your reading, comment often (before, during, or after each reading session) in the STJ “Book Talk” forums using the following questions as a guide.
- Which character do you like the most and why? The least and why?
- What passage from the book stood out to you?
- Are there situations and/or characters you can identify with, if so how?
- Did you learn something you didn’t know before?
- Do you feel as if your views on a subject have changed by reading this text?
- Have you had a life changing revelation from reading this text?
- What major emotion did the story evoke in you as a reader?
- At what point in the book did you decide if you liked it or not? What helped make this decision?
- Name your favorite thing overall about the book. Your least favorite?
- If you could change something about the book what would it be and why?
- Describe what you liked or disliked about the writer’s style?
These questions are intended to help you perceive characters imaginatively – to help uncover the mysteries of motivation, personality, and interaction.
Understanding the Central Person
- What seems to drive this person to action?
- What action tells us most about this person?
- What action affects your feelings about this person?
- What are some basic character traits of this person?
- What is the greatest weakness of this person?
- How does this person relate to other people?
- What is special or important about this person’s moral or religious life?
- How does this person change or mature?
- What personal insights enlighten this person?
Exploring the World of Characters
- What other characters draw your special attention?
- What do they tell us about the central figure?
- What special relationships are formed by these less central people?
- What groups of people are associated in your mind?
- Do some of these people or groups represent values or ideas beyond themselves?
- Which characters provoke distaste or disdain?
- Which character is most mysterious and hard to understand?
- Which character could most easily be left out of this world?
- Do any of these other people seem to grow, change, or gain new self-understanding?
- Does any character you don’t know well play an important role?
Imagining Characters in Our World
- What in our world would shock the central character most?
- What would make anyone know this character didn’t fit in our world?
- What serious matters could you talk about with this person?
- What important values would you disagree on?
- What would your parents think about this character?
- What social causes would this person support?
- What television programs would be most appealing to this character?
- What would be the political affiliation, if any, of this person?
- What religious dogma would be most appealing or disgusting to this character?
- Did you admire or detest this person? Why? (Biography or Autobiography)
- What life lesson can be learned from this event or story? (General Nonfiction)
- Did the book read like a story, a newspaper article, a report, something else? Give examples. (General Nonfiction)
- What one new fact did you learn from reading this book? (General Nonfiction)
- What was the motivation for the writing of this book? (General but great for Bio or Auto Bio)
- Did you feel this book truly belonged in the nonfiction genre? (Memoir)
- Was the point of the book to share an opinion, explain a topic, tell about a personal journey, or something else? Did the author do it well? (General Nonfiction)
- What part of this book inspired you in some way? Explain. (Motivational, Self Help)
- Will you read other books by this author? Why or why not? (General Nonfiction)
- Did this book change your life in a positive or negative way? Explain (General Nonfiction)
Compare and contrast how two films deal with conflict.
Focus on characterization: character description, actions, speech, or thoughts.
Focus on such aspects as imagery, symbolism, archetypes.
Quote directly from the films to support your points.
If you could be a character from any book you’ve read, who would you be?
Describe a film you’d like to act in. What is it about? Who are the characters? Which character would you like to play?