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Writer's Workshop Week: Character Quests and Plot Twists

Grade Level: 6th - 8th Grade

Duration: 1 Week (5 class periods)

Standard:

Common Core ELA-Literacy.W.6-8.5: "...develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach..."

Objectives:

By the end of the lesson, your students will be able to understand the elements of character development and plot structure. They will create a character and outline a quest for their character. They’ll incorporate a plot twist into their story. Students will improve their creative writing and storytelling skills.

Materials Needed:

  • Notebooks, writing journals, or blank paper

  • Pens or pencils

  • Example texts (short stories or excerpts)

  • Graphic organizers for plot and character development

Day 1: Introduction to Character Development (60 min)

Students will create and develop a main character for their story.

Ask: What are your favorite characters from books or movies?

Discuss: Talk together about the importance of strong, well-developed characters in storytelling.

Ask: What makes a memorable character?

Say: Read excerpts from popular books with memorable characters (e.g., Harry Potter, Percy Jackson).

Do: Teach the elements of character development: 

  1. Appearance

  2. Personality

  3. Background

  4. Motivations

  5. Strengths

  6. Weaknesses

Discuss: Invite students to think of examples for each element. 

Say: Explain how all of these elements make up a character profile. 

Do: Create a character profile of one character you read about from the excerpts.

Do: Have your students create their own character profiles using the printed graphic organizer. (Your students can also create one on a blank piece of paper.) Encourage creativity and detail in their descriptions of their character.

Do: Pair up your students and have them share their character profiles with a partner. Provide feedback and suggestions for improvement as you walk around.

Day 2: Outlining the Character's Quest

Students will outline a quest or journey for their character.

Ask: What is a quest in literature?

Discuss: Explain the basic concept of the Hero’s Journey and have students share parts they relate to or understand about it.  

Do: List examples of quests in popular stories on your whiteboard. (e.g., The Hunger Games, Finding Nemo.)

Say: Teach the structure of a quest: call to adventure, challenges, allies and enemies, climax, and resolution. 

Do: Have your students outline a quest for their character using their graphic organizer. Provide an example outline, or have your students create an outline on a blank sheet of paper.

Do: Have your students share their quest outlines in small groups.

Say: Offer constructive feedback as you walk around the classroom.

Day 3: Plot Twists

Students will understand and incorporate a plot twist into their story.

Discuss: Talk together about the purpose and impact of plot twists in storytelling.

Say: Read excerpts with notable plot twists (e.g., The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin).

Say: Teach your students different types of plot twists: 

  • Surprise revelations

  • Character transformations

  • Unexpected events

Discuss: Provide examples and invite opinions of how they affect the story.

Do: Have your students brainstorm possible plot twists for their character's quest. Students will then write a short paragraph on a blank piece of paper describing the plot twist and how it changes the story.

Do: Have your students share their plot twists with a partner. As they talk, they will discuss and refine their ideas.

Day 4: Writing the First Draft

Students will begin writing the first draft of their story, incorporating their character, quest, and plot twist.

Say: Spend a few minutes reviewing the elements of a strong narrative: character, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.

Do: Your students will start writing the first draft of their story, including their character's quest and plot twist.

Do: Have your students exchange drafts with a partner for feedback.

Say: Provide guiding questions for constructive critique.

Day 5: Revising and Sharing

Students will revise their stories based on feedback and share their work with the class.

Ask: Do you think your writing is ever perfect the first time around?

Discuss: As a class, talk about the importance of revising and polishing your work.

Do: Have your students revise their drafts based on peer feedback. Encourage them to improve clarity, coherence, and detail.

Do: Students will then share their revised stories in small groups or with the whole class.

Say: Provide positive feedback and celebrate their creativity.

Assessment:

Assess your student's ability and understanding using the following criteria:

  • Participation in discussions and activities

  • Completed character profile and quest outline

  • Incorporation of a plot twist in the story

  • First draft of the story

  • Revised and polished final draft

Extensions:

Add one of these to your lesson plan if your students are ready for more.

  • Have your students create illustrations for their stories.

  • Compile the stories into a class anthology.

Written by Rachel Jones

Education World Contributor

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