Narrative Basics Lesson 1: Characters


Stories are about people

Stories are about people. 

Actually that’s not quite true. Some stories are about animals or robots or viruses—so stories are about characters

For instance, this snippet introduces the pirate Long John Silver:

N C Wyeth's painting of the pirate Long John Silver from Treasure Island

(An illustration for Treasure Island by N.C. Wyeth)

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow—a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man, his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white.

Treasure IslandRobert Louis StevensonSource

While the next one introduces Wagner the Great Bavarian Mountain Owl.

A picture of Wagner the Great Bavarian Mountain Owl from David Walliams' Awful Auntie

(An ilustration for Awfule Auntie by Quentin Blake)

Wagner never knew his real owl parents, but quickly accepted Alberta as his mother. Indeed the woman would feed the owlet live worms and spiders from her mouth, passing them from lip to bill. As Wagner grew, so did the treats. Soon she would feed him mice and sparrows she had caught in traps. Food became a reward, and over time Alberta had taught her owl a number of impressive tricks.

Awful AuntieDavid WalliamsSource

Characters can be simple or complex, so in this lesson we’ll show some of the ways in which we might describe characters in a story.

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