Managing Multiple Characters

The Family Tree Novel series is about a family of seven: five children and two parents. Each child has: a way they love, a birth order, a gender, a physical/mental limitation, and an aspiration. The conflict between these varied characters flares by his or her responses to one another.

Driew (the main character) feels unappreciated by his oldest sister, Killiope, for the deeds he does to show her love. She feels Driew’s do-gooder personality keeps him under foot. As the oldest sibling, she is responsible for getting Driew to and from school. Killiope can’t enjoy her teen life or appreciate her brother’s acts of service when responsibility supersedes fun.

Gender is an important factor in character development: Driew responds physically and Killiope verbally to confrontations. Driew attempts to fix problems that Killiope feels only need resolution.

Physical and/or mental limitations and aspirations shape a character’s response. Examples: Driew’s glasses prevent him from seeing the world below his nose; a D+ student will do poorly on tests and have a limited vocabulary compared to an A+ student; a non-swimmer will not aspire to participate in water activities like boating, rafting, or tubing in a river.

Creating a list of character traits for the main characters, is a guide for directing scene outcomes. When writing, first write the full scene. Then reference the characters’ trait list, confirming they aren’t doing any uncharacteristic behavior or making uncharacteristic choices.

Create the same list for everyone as simple as yes/no:

  • Does the character drink milk? John–Yes, Mary–No
  • Does the character have a food allergy? John–Yes, Mary–Yes
  • Does the character express love through quality time? John–Yes, Mary–Yes

Using John and Mary’s answers to the three questions above:

Everyone in the senior class is excited about the ice cream social but John. His peanut allergy prevent him from visiting Pistachio’s Ice Cream Parlor. Mary, who is lactose intolerant, boycotts the ice cream social, having a private picnic for John. Sharing their favorite foods and quality time, an unexpected love interest blossoms.

Each character’s traits and preferences direct the conflict and resolution by his or her food preferences, gender, and love.

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Student Question: What should I draw?

23-MWA_Inc-Activities

Draw about your life. Things you enjoy: animals, home, school, or write about someone in your family.  The illustrations from The Invention of Hugo Cabret and OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters are about adventures in everyday life.

Draw about places. Boring places become interesting stories when people write about them. Driew Qweepie played on his farm, which he called Outback. Author Jules Verne included illustration about his Journey to the Center of the Earth. Document the seasons, birds, or activities that happen in your backyard using a Best Sketchbook.

Put your drawing skills to the test with this drawing challenge. Can you create all the related activities in Challenge 2?

See how many fun challenges you can create with this free drawing game. This teaching resource is a fun and easy activity that will keep students creative and save teachers time.

Student Question: What Should I Write About?

22-MWA_Inc-Activities

Write about your life. Things you enjoy: hunting, fishing, sports, or write about someone in your family.  Little House on the Prarie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters are stories about adventures in everyday life.

Write about places. Boring places become interesting stories when people write about them. Driew Qweepie played on his farm, which he called Outback. Author Jules Verne wrote about his Journey to the Center of the Earth. Write places into reality by documenting the seasons, birds, or activities that happen in your backyard.

Put your skills to the test with this writing and drawing challenge. Can you create all the related activities in Challenge 1?

See how many of the fun challenges you can create with this free writing and drawing game. This teaching resource is a fun and easy activity that will keep students creative and save teachers time.

Student Question: “Do Your Children Draw?

Yes, both my children are unique artists. When each was around six years old, I gave her and him a Best Sketchbook. I told each “I’ll only draw with you in your journal so our drawings won’t get lost.” They were only allowed to start a new journal upon completion of their last.

My daughter, Isabella, would ask me to draw things once. Then a few days later she’d ask me to draw something else. She learned to draw by copying and listening to my instructions. Since then she’s won numerous competitions for drawing. Her goal is to become a singer, not an artist.

My son, Carter, was completely opposite. He rarely asked me to draw. He observed me with my journal and while I drew with Isabella. I discovered his journal filled with Lego patterns. His talent was spacial and usually consisted of rooms or building plans. He is a talented artist in a completely different way.

No matter who you are, time in your Best Sketchbook is inspiring to people around you. One of my favorite pastimes is flipping through other artists’ sketchbooks and journals.

Student Question: How Old Are You?

How Old Are You? That depends on when we meet. You’ll need to do the math. My birthdate was June 28, 1971. I was born in Princeton, Kentucky, a small Western Kentucky town. My parents names are Mary and Larry Adams and they lived in Dawson Springs, Kentucky at that time.

Since my birthday was in June, birthday parties consisted mainly of family. Most years I’d wish my birthday was during the school year so my friends could attend. My favorite thing about birthdays was and is cake—white cake with butter cream frosting!

On my 21st birthday, my mother made me a 21 layer birthday cake. She did the same for my father and this has become a family tradition for all my siblings.

Student Question: “Who Inspires the Illustrations?”

Who inspires the illustrations? The author is the first person to inspire the illustrations through their writing. Authors provide suggestions and feedback through writing.

Readers also offer great input! I sometimes read upcoming books aloud at school visits, where students offer loads of suggestions. Most comments are valid and definitely considered.

Hailey’s drawing inspired me to create this cover illustration. Her creative interpretation of the story, closely reflected my thoughts. Great illustrators think alike.

“Dear Mark Wayne Adams,

I thought you were really funny. I also really like your pictures. I thought you were on of the best drawers ever and thanks for coming to our school and sharing with us.”

—Hailey

Student Question: How did your friends see you?

How my friends saw me was much differently than how I saw myself. A great example was our Dawson Springs High School Senioritis book. I was considered “Most Talented.”

Mark Adams, the artist of the class, will always be remembered for his devotion to his artwork and his great personality. Mark is always willing to lend a helping hand and an understanding shoulder to lean on in times of need. Even if he doesn’t completely understand or agree, he will listen and offer words of advice. As you can see, Mark has many friends, but the majority of his time is spent with his girlfriend.

On Saturday nights, they are often found in Madisonville watching a movie or cruising the mall in Mark’s “Silver Bullet.” Mark not only excels at his artwork, but he also does well in school. He has been a member of the Beta Club throughout high school. He is currently ranked eighth in the senior class and is also on the honor roll.

During his spare time, besides painting and drawing, Mark enjoys lifting weights, horseback riding, swimming, and watching late night TV. Among Mark’s many achievements, his most challenging was the three weeks during the summer of 1988 when he attended the Governor’s School for the Arts. This year Mark put his skills to use by winning first place in a national postcard contest. His paintings are often displayed at the Dawson Springs Museum and Art Center.

Mark plans to attend Murray State University and major in Commercial Art. Maybe someday his dream will come true, and he will work at Walt Disney in Florida. The Class of ’89 has faith in his dreams to become a famous artist; therefore, we elected him as “Most Talented” in the Seniors’ Who’s Who. We hope that Mark will never forget us when he’s at the top, because we know that we’ll never forget him!”

—Anonymous Author, Written for Dawson Springs High School Senioritis 1989

Student Questions: “Who is Russell?”

Who is Russell?

Russell is the reason I lived in an imaginary dog house from 2008 until 2009. During Spring of 2008, I worked full-time from home—all alone. My only companionship was Blu, our 12 year old dalmatian. Her time was consumed with finding lizards.

So, I began my search for the right family dog. My kids were six and eight. The dog needed to be full of energy, tough, and smart enough to survive the Adams Family. My preparation was watching national dog shows and Caesar Milan: The Dog Whisperer. I  read various dog books on breed facts. Finally, I chose the Jack Russell breed—without any input from my family.

I didn’t mention adopting the puppy to my wife, Angela. “No!” had become her unconscious answer to my unending puppy talk. So, I did what I always did when Angela told me no. I did it anyway!

Rusty's Baby PhotoSurfing the internet, I discovered a puppy photo that was too cute! A face I knew our family would love his entire life. I drove seventy miles to Ocala, Florida just to meet this little guy. FYI, most people do not meet a puppy without coming home with him. That happened to me.

On the way home, heavy traffic and lack of planning meant I had to bring the puppy with me to the kids’ school. No time for a memorable family puppy surprise with videos and pictures. Within five minutes his given name, Rusty, creatively became Russell—”for .Jack Russell, Dad.”

That night the kids and I met Angela at the school’s Family Reading Night. The kids were sworn to secrecy about Russell because mommy didn’t know. That lasted about fifteen seconds. The kids told a neighborhood friend. The friend told her parents. Then, the parents asked Angela about her new puppy. Angela’s response, “What puppy?” She knew. I knew. The entire school knew.

On the way home, Angela constructed an imaginary dog house. Not for the puppy, but for me. I mentally packed my belongings. Thankfully, Russell’s charm won her heart too. Lies, deception, and a poorly executed meeting didn’t stop our family from adopting little Russell.

He was Daddy’s Good Boy and Bad Bad Boy from day one. The Bad Bad Boy cried at night, peed on the floor, and chewed a corner of our new ottoman. (The kids and I’ve kept that secret until now.) The Daddy’s Good Boy won hearts with his intelligence, endurance, and loyalty. Life in the Adams household wasn’t life without Russell.

Daddy's Good BoyRussell is still a great companion. He rides four-wheelers in Kentucky, swims in our Florida pool, and rests at my feet while I watercolor. He and I know each other so well. He’s protected me from the occasional backyard snake, entertained me with squirrel surveillance, and has become a true character in life and books. Russell appears in many of my illustrated picture books. He can be found in:  Parts of Speech Parade, King for a Day, Treasure Island, Franny’s Rescue, and a soon to be a Russell Toy Pattern. You may discover him in other locations like school visits, at events, and in a Best Sketchbook.

As an author, illustrator, and publisher, his adoption has given me inspiration from under foot. After eight years, my answer to Who is Russell? He’s family!

Student Question: “What Did You Look Like as a Kid?”

As a kid, I looked like any other kid. At least one tooth was missing from first grade through sixth grade. My 1970’s wardrobe was cool. I didn’t like to brush my hair, however I enjoyed dressing for special occasions. By the sixth grade, I wore glasses—thanks to many hours playing my Atari.

Do you ever think about being an adult? I did. My mind was full of questions. What life would be like when I was an adult? Would I leave home? Would I fly on an airplane? Would I drive a car? Would I look the same in twenty years?

The photos show a gradual change each year. Daily I learned new things shaping me into the man I am today. My parents would say, be a kid as long as you can. I now understand what that means.

Growing up is a slow process, however aging is much faster. My favorite thing about being an adult is: being an adult means you can be a kid too!