Here’s a playwriting prompt exercise that takes advantage of something that’s frequently around us: advertisements! Ads are everywhere, and their main purpose is to sell us stuff. But we’re going to use them as inspiration for some fun writing activities. This exercise can be done in person or via distance learning.
Students must find an image from an ad with a person in it. This can be anything – a picture from a magazine, a popup ad from a website, a clip from a television commercial, or an image from the side of a bus or a billboard. Students might choose a well-known advertising figure, such as the handsome man from the Old Spice ads, or the Philadelphia Cream Cheese angel. They might choose a model from a print ad or catalogue. The image can be a person of any gender, race, or age. Try to avoid animated characters or celebrity endorsements for this exercise.
Students will capture an image of the advertisement. For example, they can take a screenshot of the website or take a photo of the ad on their smartphone. Once they have an image, they will create a character sketch about the person in the ad. Students must write a minimum of ten different personality traits and personal details about their character (that are unrelated to the character’s visual appearance). Who is the person? What is their name? How old are they? Do they have family or friends? What do they do with their time? Why do they like the product or service they’re selling?
Once the character sketch is done, students will select, complete, and submit one of the five follow-up assignments below (along with the image and character sketch):