Elements of Fantasy Writing and Understanding Characterisation

Developing characters using Artemis Fowl

In week six our primary students in years 3-6 explored elements of fantasy writing and understanding characterisation using the book Artemis Fowl by Eion Colfer.

Understanding CharacterisationFantasy is an element of fiction that deals with things that are impossible. This genre of writing has its own themes and elements and will often include things such as magic, quests, imaginary worlds, mythical creatures, and battles between good and evil. Basically, anything that cannot happen in real life is considered fantasy.

Understanding Characterisation

Students were introduced to the book Artemis Fowl and discussed the synopsis and what type of genre (fantasy) they thought this book would be. They were asked to offer suggestions of what characteristics this story may have and if it was similar to other stories they may have read. The students were shown Eion Colfer’s biography and asked why he may have written this book and anything else they found interesting about his biography.

Understanding Characterisation

Worsksheets on Understanding Characterisation were discussed as a class and examples of indirect characterisation offered. Next the students had to look for their own examples of indirect characterisation as they listened to the first chapter of Artemis Fowl and copy these into their worksheets.

A picture was shown of a cartoon depiction and real actor playing Artemis. The students were asked if they resembled how the students pictured Artemis in their minds during the reading. Discussion then emphasised how it’s important for the author to describe the characters in a way that really shows the reader how they look in their minds.

Now it was time for the students to develop two characters and write their own short fantasy story. First, they wrote a list using the LAST mnemonic device (a character’s Looks, Actions, Speech and Thoughts) to help them come up with details about their two main characters. The students wrote down details about their characters and how they would like to describe them, referring to the Understanding Characterisation worksheet as necessary. Students were reminded that it’s important for them to use as many details about their characters as possible so that they seem real to their audience.

The students then enjoyed creating a short fantasy story including their new characters. They were encouraged to describe their character’s personalities, use their mnemonic lists and the elements of fantasy discussed in class to help generate ideas for a setting and plot. The goal of this writing task was to make sure that the students wrote a creative narrative and that they were able to incorporate indirect characterisation into their stories to make the characters come alive. Everyone enjoyed writing their stories and we have included some examples of their work for you to read.

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