Let’s play a little game. I’ll tell you some things about the inside of my car, and you tell me what you can discern about me from those details.
There’s an ice scraper on the ﬂoor and a foldable camp chair in the back.
There’s a copy of a 200-page unpublished novel with my name listed as the author.
CD selections range from the Carpenters to Queen Latifah to the soundtrack from “Shrek.” The backseat carpet is heavily stained. The backseat itself is covered in scuff marks.
There’s a brightly colored, handmade God’s eye hanging oﬀ the gear shift. There’s a stuffed duck dressed in a sailor’s outfit in the map pocket.
The glove compartment holds binoculars, mints, a prescription bottle full of quarters, and fast food coupons.
Okay, you get the picture. My guess is that while you might misinterpret some of those details, there are actually several things you’d guess correctly about me based on knowing them.
You can turn this game into a fun character-building activity for student writers. Ask them to describe one of the following settings connected to one of their own story characters: their character’s bedroom, locker at school, closet, or (for older characters), their car. Once they’ve created the description, have them trade with another student. Then the other student will try to guess something about the personality of their partner’s character, based on the description of that personal space. That tells the writer which details best reveal their character’s personality and circumstances, and therefore would make the best details to include in their actual story.
Students could also do this as a compare/contrast activity by describing the bedroom or locker of two or more key characters in their story.
Young writers will ﬁnd that they can convey a whole lot about a character by giving readers a chance to peek into their characters’ personal spaces.