Create a short autobiography. Use these statements to get your ideas flowing:
- My greatest achievement was…
- My greatest loss was…
- I have never felt happier than when…
- I have never felt worse than when…
- The funniest thing that ever happened to me was…
- The most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me was…
- The person who has influenced me the most is…
- What is important to me is…
- My future goals are…
You may wish to write your autobiography chronologically or in another way that seems appropriate. Include photos and keepsakes to illustrate your narrative.
Read a book – fiction or non-fiction. During your reading, comment often (before, during, or after each reading session) in the STJ “Book Talk” forums using the following questions as a guide.
- Which character do you like the most and why? The least and why?
- What passage from the book stood out to you?
- Are there situations and/or characters you can identify with, if so how?
- Did you learn something you didn’t know before?
- Do you feel as if your views on a subject have changed by reading this text?
- Have you had a life changing revelation from reading this text?
- What major emotion did the story evoke in you as a reader?
- At what point in the book did you decide if you liked it or not? What helped make this decision?
- Name your favorite thing overall about the book. Your least favorite?
- If you could change something about the book what would it be and why?
- Describe what you liked or disliked about the writer’s style?
These questions are intended to help you perceive characters imaginatively – to help uncover the mysteries of motivation, personality, and interaction.
Understanding the Central Person
- What seems to drive this person to action?
- What action tells us most about this person?
- What action affects your feelings about this person?
- What are some basic character traits of this person?
- What is the greatest weakness of this person?
- How does this person relate to other people?
- What is special or important about this person’s moral or religious life?
- How does this person change or mature?
- What personal insights enlighten this person?
Exploring the World of Characters
- What other characters draw your special attention?
- What do they tell us about the central figure?
- What special relationships are formed by these less central people?
- What groups of people are associated in your mind?
- Do some of these people or groups represent values or ideas beyond themselves?
- Which characters provoke distaste or disdain?
- Which character is most mysterious and hard to understand?
- Which character could most easily be left out of this world?
- Do any of these other people seem to grow, change, or gain new self-understanding?
- Does any character you don’t know well play an important role?
Imagining Characters in Our World
- What in our world would shock the central character most?
- What would make anyone know this character didn’t fit in our world?
- What serious matters could you talk about with this person?
- What important values would you disagree on?
- What would your parents think about this character?
- What social causes would this person support?
- What television programs would be most appealing to this character?
- What would be the political affiliation, if any, of this person?
- What religious dogma would be most appealing or disgusting to this character?
- Did you admire or detest this person? Why? (Biography or Autobiography)
- What life lesson can be learned from this event or story? (General Nonfiction)
- Did the book read like a story, a newspaper article, a report, something else? Give examples. (General Nonfiction)
- What one new fact did you learn from reading this book? (General Nonfiction)
- What was the motivation for the writing of this book? (General but great for Bio or Auto Bio)
- Did you feel this book truly belonged in the nonfiction genre? (Memoir)
- Was the point of the book to share an opinion, explain a topic, tell about a personal journey, or something else? Did the author do it well? (General Nonfiction)
- What part of this book inspired you in some way? Explain. (Motivational, Self Help)
- Will you read other books by this author? Why or why not? (General Nonfiction)
- Did this book change your life in a positive or negative way? Explain (General Nonfiction)