Writing About Character…YouTube and my prompt Morphing Miley

In writing workshops and writing groups, I’ve seen many different pieces developed using this prompt.  YouTube can be a great catalyst for writing if it suits an individual writer’s process.  I don’t know if any writers here in our online writing community will find this interesting and useful.  But here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

Morphing Miley

morph: to gradually change one image into another using computer technology, or to be changed in this way.

Today, all over YouTube and other sites we can find videos of people changing over a certain number of years. There are also other videos that show famous portrait paintings flow from a portrait of one woman to another to another seamlessly, so we see a number of women almost as if they were one woman. Many of these are very beautiful. Videos of real people which focus on one individual can prompt a number of different kinds of writing by developing a character or suggesting a story or poem.

Videos of people morphing show a person aging over a certain period of time in their life. But these videos can show more than just the changes in the person’s physical appearance as they grow older. People’s personalities and experiences and attitudes are often reflected in their expressions over time. These can suggest emotions and attitudes about themselves and life as they grow older.

On YouTube type in the term “morphing video and Miley Cyrus.”  There may be several.  The one for this prompt shows her from baby to two years ago. Look for that or something similar. In this video, Miley Cyrus morphs from baby to child to teenage Hannah Montana actress to the young woman who seems to have become a very different person. We’re going to watch this video several times. Watch it carefully and see what you think about the changes we see. What kind of child does she seem to be? We see her becoming a teenager. Then we see her as she actually looked during the time that she was so popular as Hannah Montana, as a blonde. Look at her expressions. How do you think her life was changing during that period of her life? Finally, we see her become the young woman she is today, no longer a Disney princess. What changes do you see in her appearance since her teen acting years?


Think about what we think Miley Cyrus’s life was like from her childhood until today. We’ll watch the video several times. The first time just watch the video. If we start writing anything at this point, we might get lost in details and not see the whole transition during that time. The second time jot down as many details of her appearance as you can. During the third viewing, pay attention to her expressions and emotions and attitudes you see.

Remember this is a brainstorming prompt. It is not about the real Miley Cyrus. We don’t  know her personally. We are imagining her personality and life from a series of photograph clips. So this descriptive writing is brainstorming to create a fictional character of your own. It may be based on the process of seeing bits and pieces of her over time and ideas that the video gives you about a person and change, but you will not use Miley’s real life as your story.

Now go ahead and write your story or poem using this example of morphing.  If you can, go online to YouTube, type in “morphing videos” or something similar. You will get an incredible number to look at. I actually love to do this. It’s amazing and fascinating much of the time. Choose one to focus on. Then do the same things we did with the Morphing Miley as brainstorming, and begin a piece.


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