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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

08 June 2024

Posted by Susan L. Edser

Questions and Character

The warm-up today was a quick-fire poem exercise using the following words:



Crazy / Discombobulated (for the older group)



Delighted / Ridiculous (for the older group)


Sue, who has become the group’s DJ, provided music that helped the writing process, although some thought it was like lift music.

The two groups devised clever rhyming, such as ‘fighted’ with ‘delighted’ and ‘over-populated’ with ‘discombobulated’. This demonstrated excellent scanning and an ability to play with words, like other great poets before them. Everyone managed to write poems with good form, structure, and rhythm. One person went off-brief and drew a cat instead!


Ali then introduced the session's aim to explore questions and character. She invited the writers to pick a question from the question box. This included ones such as:

Why are you sticky?

What happens if I drink this?

Do you trust me?

How did you get that scar?

Can you swim?

Who stole the fish?

What happened to your feet?


Both groups created intriguing characters and storylines, including a slimy monster called Slimarella, dead cousins stealing fish and growth serums.


Ali then explored how characters can help engage readers and make them want to know what will happen next. The group discussed elements such as whether the characters have a family, what they like, and their personalities. The most important questions are: What does the character want, and what is their problem?

The groups let their imaginations flow, and these were some of their ideas:

A girl looks 20 but is actually 100 years old

A girl wants a pet but her parents say no

A boy who can’t read, has no friends and wants to change both these things

A girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut

A girl who is a serial killer, hates everyone, and Superman is her enemy.

A person who can see abstract nouns, like ‘happiness’, which is their superpower.

A woman is 10,000 years old, lives in hell and the Divine One is her enemy


We topped off the morning session with discussing The Wizard of Oz and how tropes are repeated in many other stories.


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