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I don't have a story or plot or anything, but I want to write a speech about an important fictional character. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do this. I don't really know how to come up with the content.

I think I might need to invent a character and some kind of story for this character, in order for me to write the speech. Does anyone have any idea of how I can do this?

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    Sorry, what is the function of this speech? Give a speech about any fictional character to an undisclosed group for what specific function?
    – DWKraus
    Sep 14 at 3:49
  • Tue audience are also fictional characters.
    – garbus
    Sep 14 at 9:30
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    More context, please. You imagining giving a speech about Darth Vader to imaginary Storm Troopers is very different conceptually than you presenting a speech about Superman to a classroom filled with students pretending to be famous people vs. giving a speech about Mr. Bunny to a crowd of stuffed animals to entertain a child.
    – DWKraus
    Sep 14 at 11:15
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    What did you learn by reading the many many many examples in fiction and real life? Here's one for free: poetryfoundation.org/poems/56968/…
    – wetcircuit
    Sep 14 at 12:00
  • So you're saying you know that you want to write this speech, but beyond that you have nothing. You have no idea who the subject of the speech is, or the setting or any of it, and your question is, "How do I invent a character I can write a speech about?" Is that right? Why do you think it would be any different than inventing any other character? Sep 19 at 11:52
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There is a perfect pair of exercises in the Progymnasmata syllabus I use in my own practice as a teacher that would help you shape and craft this piece of writing.

The exercises focus on either giving a speech of praise (the Encomium task) or a speech of blame (the Invective task).

The exercises both follow the same structure and generally have eight sections which go from the general to the specific and relate the character's achievements to the listeners' lives in general.

The sections are:

  1. What’s great about them being born a human being?
  2. What kind of background did they have?
  3. What natural gifts did they have?
  4. What name might they be worthy of?
  5. What qualities did they have that drove them to excellence?
  6. What did they DO?
  7. How did people react? What did people make of all this?
  8. What can we learn from them? How can they influence us?

The originals are period-specific, so references to omens and auguries would not have as much relevance today as they would have in Classical times, but it's easy to adapt - and you appreciate much more about the way in which Classical civilisation was more connected with the natural world in which it existed than post-Industrial society arguably is by doing so.

In my own practice, I encourage students to explore the difference in effect when the speech is given in the form of a direct address in the second person to the character, or in the form of a speech delivered to an audience about the character, referring to the character in the third person - an interesting exercise, particularly when an Invective speech written in the third person is flipped and given in the first person to the writer.

Work with the exercises creatively, and you'll find these are powerful exercises and teach far more about what it means to be a fully engaged member of society than many modern writing exercises or prompts.

Further information on the Progymnasmata syllabus generally and these exercises specifically can be found in:

Kennedy, G. A. (2003). Progymnasmata: Greek textbooks of prose composition and rhetoric. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature.

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