What Is A Character Sketch Essay?
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How Do I Start An Introduction Of A Character Sketch Essay Or Write Character Sketch Essay?
A character sketch essay is a piece of writing that describes a person’s life. This person may be your friend, a family member, or a character in a literary work. A writer has the freedom to be inquisitive of what the author is trying to express through his characters. For example, you can give a sketch of the hero/heroine or of the character causing conflict to the main character. Writing character sketch essays has the advantage of improving observation and not-taking skills of the writer.
A step-by-step guide for writing a character sketch essay
Choose a Character
- Your choice of character should be someone you know. Moreover, use a character that everyone will anticipate on meeting.
- Capitalize on one or two traits that will help you in your essay. Avoid giving too much information about your character that is not helpful in building your essay.
- Mind your audience as you write since you have knowledge of your character and they do not.
Building the character
- Use details that will help in maintaining the emphasis of your essay. Your main interest is in showing and not telling.
- Give your character’s physical description in terms of appearance and dressing. Characters also reveal themselves repeated movements, gestures, and facial expressions.
- Quote your character’s words in the essay. By letting your character speak, readers understand him/her better.
- Describedifferent settings showing how your character relates with others.
- You can describe a scene or use an anecdote to disclose your character's personality.
- Do not interpret your characters to the readers. It is more interesting when they derive their own conclusions.
- If a reader reflects on a familiar episode similar to that involving your character then the writer has succeeded in creating emotion.
- Avoid connecting emotionally with your subject character. This can be a temptation when your character is someone you know very well. You can be creative in your description but remember your role is that of an interested observer.
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How to Write a Character Sketch?
- Updated on
- Nov 22, 2022
Every one of us has at least one favourite character from the novels we love. But we often find it difficult to summarize our favourite character within a few words. The character seems larger than life and words never seem enough to portray them fully. A character sketch simply summarizes the key personality traits, background, behaviour, and nature of a particular character. So, if you are wondering how to write a character sketch , this blog brings you the essential features, tips, and examples you need to curate an amazing one!
This Blog Includes:
What is character sketch, character sketch format, tips to write a character sketch, best character sketch examples, character sketch of a teacher example, example character sketch of best friend, character sketch of neighbour, character sketch of a fictional character, character sketch assignments.
A character Sketch it is a piece of text that can give a brief overview of a particular person or character to a reader. Getting an idea of how to write a character sketch greatly helps in sharpening your observational skills. Practising a character sketch enables you to improve your summarizing skills, which benefit you in various exams. Also, it is one of the necessary skills for a person intending to pursue a career in creative writing, English literature, or even teaching.
A character sketch can be written about any character in a novel or a story, a famous person in history, or even a person you know. It introduces the reader to a particular character while providing a swift and precise overview of all their attributes. Below are some points that will guide you in writing a character sketch:
- Research about the Character : To begin with, jot down their physical characteristics, personality features, emotions, etc., which would give a general idea of what includes the most important traits of the character that needs to be focussed on.
- Create a descriptive snapshot of the character : The best character sketches are detailed to include specific important traits, but you should avoid making it seem like a full history of the character. Start with making a rough draft initially, then re-read and revise it till it attains a satisfactory standard. Proofreading your character sketch is necessary to avoid any possible errors.
- Use short, crisp sentences : While writing it is essential to remember that the character sketch aims to introduce the reader to the character and to provide an understanding of the character’s personality. The character sketch should help the reader easily form a visualization of the character when reading the character sketch.
Knowing the most necessary parts of a character sketch is essential. Observing an individual’s physical features as well as overall personality characteristics is crucial to sketching out their character on paper. Here is the format of the character sketch:
- Personality Traits : It is important to define your character’s personality and physical traits in detail to help the reader visualize how they look, behave, talk and act.
- Add a Back Story or their Background : To give more depth to your character sketch, you can also inquire about what their story is, any particular thing that they always mention about their past, or their overall background so that the reader can better relate with the character. Adding a back story can further give more allure to your character as you will go beyond how they look or their personality traits.
- How they Changed or Evolved over the Years: If you are writing a character sketch of someone you have known for a long time or a character you have read from a novel or short story, then you must also include their evolution and development over time. Mention how they have evolved as a person, what major changes you have noticed about them or how they see the world now as compared to before.
- How they Talk and Act Around People: Observing someone, you must always analyze how they act around other people, whether acquaintances or strangers. You can also write about how the person talks about something they are passionate about or even their perspective on life. This is another way to write an excellent character sketch that will bring any simple character to life!
- Their Impact on You or Those Around Them: Another way to make a loveable character is to intensify the effect they have on people and even yourself. Observe how the person behaves with others, whether they are sincere, honest, or people-pleasing, these characteristics will further make your character sketch even more human and interesting to read.
Now that you have got a general idea about how to write a character sketch, mentioned below are some tips you can glance through to enhance your writing and observational skills for the same:
- Focus on both the physical and non-physical features of the character.
- Use words that help in the visualization of the character.
- The description should be well-structured, clear, and concise.
- The character sketch should provide a total outline of the attributes of the particular character. It should be written in a way that answers all the questions that the reader might have regarding a character.
To further explain how to write a character sketch, here is an example of the character sketch of Anne Frank, the youthful writer of the famed “The Diary of a Young Girl”:
Anne, the author of the diary, is a thirteen-year-old feisty girl who is more confident in writing down her thoughts in her diary than sharing them with people. While being quite close to her father, she shares an emotionally distant relationship with her mother. Throughout the diary, she grows from an innocent, stubborn, and somewhat spiteful girl to a more politically conscious, self-aware, and introspective girl of 15 years. She tries to keep an optimistic attitude even in the concentration camp she is moved to, where she dies before reaching the age of sixteen. Anne was a strong-willed and spirited girl, who struggled to keep her optimism alive even in the face of grave fear and danger.
The most simple way to learn how to write a character sketch is to pick someone you look up to and then create their character sketch. So, here is an example of a character sketch of a teacher:
It was the first day of 7th grade when Miss Neetu Singh entered our classroom. She introduced herself and told us that she will be teaching English to the class. She was a fair woman with big glasses, and long hair and always wore ethnic attire. Before starting any lesson that day and hurrying towards completing the syllabus, she simply asked everyone to introduce themselves. Miss Singh brought us many engaging games to learn the grammar basics and further helped us understand every chapter with perfection. Even with the timidest of us, she was patient and understanding and taught us to honour the learning process. She convinced our principal to field trips to many literary plays and introduced us to many popular writers and poets that went even beyond our curriculum. She remained the favourite teacher of 7th grade and the whole school and there was not a single class of ours that wasn’t filled with interactive and fun learning.
My friend Akanksha Guliani has been my real support through thick and thin in life. After being friends with her for the past 17 years, I am so thrilled today when I received the news of her getting married. I still remember the first day when I saw her in class, she was sitting on the second bench wearing glasses and adjusting her curls behind the ear. She had a round face with a cheeky nose and hazel brown eyes. She was a happy-go-lucky girl and always seemed helpful. Back then she was taller than me as she had thin legs from which even the school socks used to fall. On the very first day, we sat together and realized how amazingly we clicked with each other. She became my best friend in the class in no time. Being a new entry into the school, her chirpiness helped her in becoming a dear friend of the entire class. Her eagerness to help everyone out with her studies made her the go-to person in the class. I feel lucky to have such a wholehearted person as my best friend.
My neighbour, Mr Sharma is a gem of a person and is recognized as the heart of the entire society. The Sharma family has been living adjacent to us for the last 6 years and now they have become more of a family. Unlike the other uncles of the locality who used to scold us for being naughty, Mr Sharma was always supportive of our naughty deeds. I remember when he caught our ball and I encountered him for the first time. His bold moustaches along with spectacles were enough to scare me but as I approached him, he started giggling like us! I was shocked to see a well-dressed, 6 feet long man with a nice hat laughing like a child. From that day onwards, Mr Sharma became the eldest member of our group. He used to spend Sunday afternoons with us playing cricket on the ground. His jolly nature and wise thoughts always equipped us with valuable insights into life in the most fun manner. It wouldn’t be wrong to call him the glue that binds us all together!
Raghu is a 12-year-old boy who lives in a small village in Uttar Pradesh. He seems a little small or rather scrawny for his age. He has thick brown curly hair that closely resembles a broom and his thinness makes him coincide with the stick of a broom. The locals often make fun office appearances. On the other hand, the adults never leave an opportunity to call him a weakling because he never speaks up for himself. Well, the reality seems to differ a little as Raghu is one of the most gentle children in the village. Unlike the ones who enjoy their time picking each other’s legs, he mostly approaches farm animals and spends his day with them. He is the only child in the village who can approach any five animals without scaring them. The animals get comforted by his smooth touch and come boys instead of the loudness of the other villagers.
Here are some character sketch worksheets you can practice with:
Character Sketch Worksheet 1
Character Sketch Worksheet 2
Character Worksheet 3
Character Sketch Worksheet 4
To write an amazing character sketch, you must include the following: 1. Physical Characteristics 2. What does your character do? 3. How do you get to know them? 4. Any personal encounter that you had with the character to understand them better. 5. How is the character by nature? Show instead of telling these characteristics and you will write one of the best character sketches!
A character sketch simply means a description or analysis of a certain character telling the reader about their physical appearance, personality traits, habits, strengths, weaknesses, and history amongst others.
Here are the necessary elements that should be in a character sketch: 1. Physical Characteristics 2. Personality Traits 3. A back story or how the writer got to know about the character. 4. What the character wants or aspires to be 5. How they talk or treat others 6. How they evolved with time 7. Habits/Strengths/Weaknesses that can tell the reader a bit more about the character
A character sketch has a certain purpose for both the writer and the reader. For the writer, a character sketch can help them define what the character is like and how he/she evolves or develops throughout the story while for the reader, it can provide them with a brief idea of the character.
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It’a a wonderful n very helpful article in this regard. I m very glad to read n understand through it. Thank you vety very much.
Thank you for the feedback, Monika!
Thank you for a very clear and comprehensive discussion of Character sketch.
We are glad that you understood the blog clearly. If you like this blog on Character Sketch, you will love the blog on Story Writing- https://leverageedu.com/blog/story-writing/ .
Novel in character Sketch of 2main character also write the summary
Very nice content of the article. Use of easy language and full fledged information given.
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- Word Count: 1061
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A character sketch is a written description of a character in a story. In writing a character sketch, you are to observe a character in a novel to get the feel of what this character is really like, and then relay information to another reader in a clear, concise manner. . Characterization . There are 8 methods through which most authors characterize the people in a novel. They are:. 1. Physical Description. 2. What the character says. 3. What the character does . 4. What the character thinks . 5. What other say about the character. 6. What others do to the character. 7. The setting in which a character is found. 8. What the character is like. . Essay Project. For this project, you will write a complete character sketch on a character from the novel you are studying in class. This report will include quotations from the novel as well as your personal observations about the character you have chosen to study using a third person point of view. . Project Steps: . Rough character sketch done in class to get the brain reflecting on the characters in the novel written in class journal during class time. Character Bone Structure worksheet to be turned in with final copy of character sketch and check periodically. Essay Outline to be turned in with final copy of character sketch and check periodically. Essay Rough Draft to be turned in with final copy of character sketch and check periodically. Revision on Rough Draft and Peer Editing Worksheet completed by fellow classmate to be turned in with final copy of character sketch and check periodically. Final Copy due March 22!. The majority of the essay will be written in class BUT students will need to at home revisions and editing along the way. ******* Your description of the character MUST be based on the information provided in the novel. You make your own inferences and conclusions about a character but these assumptions have to be supported with proof fro m your novel. You should also provide proof that you have read and have an understanding of the ENTIRE novel! *******.
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How to Write a Character Analysis Essay and Get an A+
A character analysis essay is a challenging type of essay students usually write for literature or English courses. In this article, we will explain the definition of character analysis and how to approach it. We will also touch on how to analyze characters and guide you through writing character analysis essays.
Typically, this kind of writing requires students to describe the character in the story's context. This can be fulfilled by analyzing the relationship between the character in question and other personas. Although, sometimes, giving your personal opinion and analysis of a specific character is also appropriate.
Let's explain the specifics of how to do a character analysis by getting straight to defining what is a character analysis. Our term paper writers will have you covered with a thorough guide!
What Is a Character Analysis Essay?
The character analysis definition explains the in-depth personality traits and analyzes characteristics of a certain hero. Mostly, the characters are from literature, but sometimes other art forms, such as cinematography. In a character analysis essay, your main job is to tell the reader who the character is and what role they play in the story. Therefore, despite your personal opinion and preferences, it is really important to use your critical thinking skills and be objective toward the character you are analyzing. A character analysis essay usually involves the character's relationship with others, their behavior, manner of speaking, how they look, and many other characteristics.
Although it's not a section about your job experience or education on a resume, sometimes it is appropriate to give your personal opinion and analysis of a particular character.
What Is the Purpose of a Character Analysis Essay
More than fulfilling a requirement, this type of essay mainly helps the reader understand the character and their world. One of the essential purposes of a character analysis essay is to look at the anatomy of a character in the story and dissect who they are. We must be able to study how the character was shaped and then learn from their life.
A good example of a character for a character analysis essay is Daisy Buchanan from 'The Great Gatsby.' The essay starts off by explaining who Daisy is and how she relates to the main character, Jay Gatsby. Depending on your audience, you need to decide how much of the plot should be included. If the entire class writes an essay on Daisy Buchanan, it is logical to assume everyone has read the book. Although, if you know for certain that your audience has little to no knowledge of who she is, it is crucial to include as much background information as possible.
After that, you must explain the character through certain situations involving her and what she said or did. Make sure to explain to the reader why you included certain episodes and how they have showcased the character. Finally, summarize everything by clearly stating the character's purpose and role in the story.
We also highly recommend reading how to write a hook for an essay .
Still Need Help with Your Character Analysis Essay?
Different types of characters.
To make it clear how a reader learns about a character in the story, you should note that several characters are based on their behaviors, traits, and roles within a story. We have gathered some of them, along with vivid examples from famous literature and cinema pieces:
Types of Characters
- Major : These are the main characters; they run the story. Regularly, there are only one or two major characters. Major characters are usually of two types: the protagonist – the good guy, and the antagonist: the bad guy or the villain.
- Protagonist (s) (heroes): The main character around whom most of the plot revolves.
For example, Othello from Shakespeare's play, Frodo from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and Elizabeth Bennet from 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen.
- Antagonist (s): This is the person that is in opposition to the protagonist. This is usually the villain, but it could also be a natural power, set of circumstances, majestic being, etc.
For example, Darth Vader from the Star Wars series by George Lucas, King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, or the Wicked Queen from 'Snow White and Seven Dwarfs.'
- Minor : These characters help tell the major character's tale by letting them interact and reveal their personalities, situations, and/or stories. They are commonly static (unchanging). The minor characters in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien would be the whole Fellowship of the ring. In their own way, each member of the Fellowship helps Frodo get the ring to Mordor; without them, the protagonist would not be a protagonist and would not be able to succeed. In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, minor characters are Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. They consistently help Harry Potter on his quests against Voldemort, and, like Frodo, he wouldn't have succeeded without them.
On top of being categorized as a protagonist, antagonist, or minor character, a character can also be dynamic, static, or foil.
- Dynamic (changing): Very often, the main character is dynamic.
An example would also be Harry Potter from the book series by J.K. Rowling. Throughout the series, we see Harry Potter noticing his likeness to Voldemort. Nevertheless, Harry resists these traits because, unlike Voldemort, he is a good person and resists any desire to become a dark wizard.
- Static (unchanging): Someone who does not change throughout the story is static.
A good example of a static character is Atticus Finch from “How to Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. His character and views do not change throughout the book. He is firm and steady in his beliefs despite controversial circumstances.
- Foils : These characters' job is to draw attention to the main character(s) to enhance the protagonist's role.
A great example of a foil charact e r is Dr. Watson from the Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle.
How to Analyze a Character
While preparing to analyze your character, make sure to read the story carefully.
- Pay attention to the situations where the character is involved, their dialogues, and their role in the plot.
- Make sure you include information about what your character achieves on a big scale and how they influence other characters.
- Despite the categories above, try thinking outside the box and explore your character from around.
- Avoid general statements and being too basic. Instead, focus on exploring the complexities and details of your character(s).
How to Write a Character Analysis Essay?
To learn how to write a character analysis essay and gather a more profound sense of truly understanding these characters, one must completely immerse themself in the story or literary piece.
- Take note of the setting, climax, and other important academic parts.
- You must be able to feel and see through the characters. Observe how analysis essay writer shaped these characters into life.
- Notice how little or how vast the character identities were described.
- Look at the characters' morals and behaviors and how they have affected situations and other characters throughout the story.
- Finally, observe the characters whom you find interesting.
Meanwhile, if you need help writing a paper, leave us a message ' write my paper .'
How Do You Start a Character Analysis Essay
When writing a character analysis essay, first, you have to choose a character you'd like to write about. Sometimes a character will be readily assigned to you. It's wise to consider characters who play a dynamic role in the story. This will captivate the reader as there will be much information about these personas.
Read the Story
You might think that if you already have read the book, there is no need to do so again; however, now that you know the character you would like to focus on, reading it again will have plenty of benefits. It will give you an opportunity to be more precise while reading the scenes that relate directly to your character and are important for his/her analysis. While reading the book, pay attention to every tiny detail to make sure you grasp the whole array of your character's traits.
Consider the following things:
- What specific descriptions does the author provide for each character?
For example, when J.K. Rowling describes Harry Potter for the first time, she describes his clothes as old and oversized, his hair untidy, and his glasses as broken. It might seem just like a simple description, but she expresses compassion and pity for an orphan neglected by his only relatives.
- What kinds of relationships does your character have with others?
Think about how Harry builds up his friendships with others. First, he and Ron do not like Hermione because she acts like a know-it-all, but when she gets stuck in the dungeons with a horrendous troll, he rushes to save her regardless.
- How do the actions of the character move the plot forward?
In 'The Philosopher's Stone,' Harry is very observant of any events taking place at school. He analyzes people's actions, which builds up the plot around the stone and its importance for the magical world.
Get help with your character analysis from our experts.
Choose a Dynamic Character
Choosing a dynamic character is a great idea. This does not necessarily have to be the protagonist, but a character that undergoes many changes has grown throughout the story and is not boring and/or static. This gives you a perfect advantage to fully show the character and make your paper entertaining and engaging for the reader. If you choose a character that is not very dynamic, your essay might seem monotonous because your character will not end up doing much and will not be very involved in the story.
While you are reading, it is useful to take notes or highlight/underline any of the critical elements of the story. This will add depth to your character description(s). By providing vivid and specific examples, you connect your reader to the character, and the character comes alive in their eyes. Review your notes and formulate the main idea about your character when you're finished reading with your character in mind.
Make an initial draft while taking note of the character analysis essay outline provided by your instructor. You may follow the recommended character analysis essay format if you have not been provided with a sample.
Choose a Main Idea
While reading the story, make sure you keep track of your notes. It is a good idea to look at them, choose the ones that are the most representative of your character and find patterns. This will be your thesis. Then, you must support this idea with examples and situations involving your character.
If your character were Jem Finch from 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, the main idea would be how his personal character is shaped through racial conflicts, social inequalities, and internal struggles between public opinion, his own views, and what is actually right. Essaypro offers you history essay help. Leave us a notice if you need to proofread, edit, or write your essay.
Character Analysis Questions
Now that you have jotted down some main concepts about your character, here is a list of questions that can help you fill in the blanks you might still have:
- Where do the events involving your character take place?
- What are the relationships between your character and other significant characters?
- What is the primary change your character has gone through throughout the story?
- What is your character's background?
- What is your character's occupation?
- What kind of emotions does your character go through?
- What are your character's values?
- What is your character's value?
- Does your character have friends?
- Is there a lesson your character has learned by the end of the story?
- Does the character achieve the goals he/she has set for himself/herself?
Make a Character Analysis Essay Outline
When you're unsure how to write a character synopsis, remember that creating a literary analysis outline is one of the most critical steps. A well-constructed character analysis outline will keep your thoughts and ideas organized.
Character Analysis Essay Introduction:
Make the introduction to your paper brief and meaningful. It should hold together your entire essay and spark your audience's interest. Write a short description of the character in question. Don't forget to include a character analysis thesis statement which should make a case for the character's relevance within the narrative context.
Character Analysis Essay Body:
Subdivide your body paragraphs into different ideas or areas regarding the character. Look at your professor's rubric and ensure you'll be able to tackle all the requirements. You should also be provided with questions to be answered to formulate your analysis better. The body should answer the following questions:
- What is the character's physical appearance, personality, and background?
- What are the conflicts the character experiences, and how did he/she overcome them?
- What can we learn from this character?
- What is the meaning behind the character's actions? What motivates him/her?
- What does the character do? How does he/she treat others? Is he/she fair or unjust?
- What does the character say? What is his/her choice of words? Does he/she have a rich vocabulary?
- How does the character describe themself? How do others describe him/her?
- What words do you associate with the character? Perhaps a word like 'hope,' 'bravery,' or maybe even 'freedom'?
Character Analysis Essay Conclusion:
It's time to master the secrets of how to write character analysis essay conclusions. Your ending should also hold your ideas together and shape a final analysis statement. Mention things about the character's conflicts that we could experience in real life. Additionally, you can write about how a character should've reacted to a certain situation.
Character Analysis Essay Example
Read our blogs ‘Character Analysis of Jem Finch', 'The Great Gatsby Book Through Daisy Buchanan Character,' 'Analysis of Characters in Beowulf,' or simply use these character analysis essay examples to reference your paper. You might also be interested in a synthesis essay example .
Now that you know what is character analysis, it might be time to choose a character to write about. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to type ' do my homework for me ,' you should contact our writers. You also get a free plagiarism report, formatting, and citing when buying an essay from us!
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Character Sketch in Composition
- An Introduction to Punctuation
- Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
- M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
- B.A., English, State University of New York
In composition , a character sketch is a brief description in prose of a particular person or type of person. In writing one, you go into the character's manner, distinct characteristics, nature, and the way that person behaves him or herself. It's also called a profile or character analysis and doesn't necessarily have to be about a fictional character.
How to Approach a Character Sketch
Even though it's an informative type of essay, a character sketch doesn't have to be dry and only descriptive. "It can also impress or entertain the reader or praise the subject," notes author R.E. Myers. "The facts, traits, idiosyncrasies, and accomplishments of the subject provide the fabric of the character sketch. Anecdotes and quotes are also helpful in portraying the subject. You can stress the subject's personality, appearance, character or accomplishments." ("Figures of Speech: A Study and Practice Guide." Teaching & Learning Company, 2008)
If analyzing a fictional character, you can also go into the person's conflicts, how the person changes, his or her attitude toward others, and role in the story. You can list the person's likes and dislikes and how you feel about the character. If the character is the narrator, you can discuss whether the person is an unreliable narrator.
A character sketch can also be satiric , as in work by authors such as Evelyn Waugh (1903–1966) and Thomas Pynchon (1933–) or modern-day television sit-coms. As a composition, a satiric sketch would likely need to be written in the character's voice and point of view to work.
Use of a Character Sketch
Besides being an essay type that students write in composition classes, fiction authors can use character sketches in their prewriting or drafting stages of short stories or novels as a means to develop the people who'll inhabit the world they're creating. Writers who plan series (or even those who just end up writing a sequel to a successful story) can find character sketches useful as a reference for maintaining consistency of detail or voice, if the character ends up being a narrator in the subsequent work or has a particular vocal tic, slang vocabulary, jargon use, or accent. Often the act of taking on the character's voice in a sketch will assist the author in discovering aspects of the character and fleshing him or her out to be more realistic. Character sketches can also be a task to work on when stuck for a plot point, character's motivation to move the plot forward, or attitude/reaction toward a conflict or event.
In nonfiction writing, character sketches can be useful for biographers or feature article writers as a prewriting tool and as descriptive material to mine for the finished work.
Annie Dillard's Sketch of Her Childhood Friend Judy Schoyer
"My friend Judy Schoyer was a thin, messy, shy girl whose thick blond curls lapped over her glasses. Her cheeks, chin, nose, and blue eyes were round; the lenses and frames of her glasses were round, and so were her heavy curls. Her long spine was supple; her legs were long and thin so her knee socks fell down. She did not care if her knee socks fell down. When I first knew her, as my classmate at the Ellis School, she sometimes forgot to comb her hair. She was so shy she tended not to move her head, but only let her eyes rove about. If my mother addressed her, or a teacher, she held her long-legged posture lightly, alert, like a fawn ready to bolt but hoping its camouflage will work a little longer." ("An American Childhood." Harper & Row, 1987.)
Bill Barich's Sketch of a Publican
"The publican, Peter Keith Page, lives with his family in a flat on the second floor. Page is a fiftyish man, slender and well-tailored, whose manner might be described as studiously charming. His mustache and hair are tinged with auburn, and this, along with a sharp nose and chin, makes him look a bit like a fox. He enjoys jokes, subtle conversations, double entendres . When he takes one of his turns behind the bar, he works at a measured pace, often pausing to ask after his patrons' health and well-being." ("At the Fountain." In "Traveling Light." Viking, 1984.)
David F. Venturo, "The Satiric Character Sketch." In "A Companion to Satire: Ancient and Modern," ed. by Ruben Quintero. Blackwell, 2007.
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Jan - march 2010 writing contest.
How to Write A Character Sketch
3 simple steps to writing a character sketch, the 2010 character sketch contest, august 1, 2010 to december 1, 2010.
The contest will judge the ability to develop a character sketch.
Read the Character Sketches Submitted by our Contestants
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How to Write a Character Sketch
Get inside your character's head
A character sketch is a quick rendering of a character, and writing a sketch is about asking and answering questions. In order to write a character sketch, you must ask yourself questions about your character. Only you, as the author, can answer these questions. Although there is no end to the types of questions you can ask, our book editors recommend the following prompts to get you thinking about who your character is so that you can write a clear and concise sketch.
Who is your character physically?
Physical characteristics are the first things we notice when we meet someone. Therefore, this is a good starting point when writing a character sketch. Is your character a woman or a man? Is he or she tall or short? Is your character bald? How old is your character? Does he or she have a disability?
Authors, eager to explore the in-depth psychology of their written subjects, might discount these details as unimportant and base. But it is often these very details that lead to conflict or are the means through which we explore a character's psychology. As an example of this, we recommend reading Flannery O'Connor's Good Country People ; in this short story, the physical details of the main character are representations of her internal state. Without a vivid description of this character's physicality, a critical dimension of the plot would be lost and the central conflict would be nonexistent. Answering questions about your character's physicality is the first step in creating a fully realized character.
What is your character doing?
This is the next question to ask because it brings into account other aspects of story writing such as setting and time. The answer to this question will also affect other aspects of your sketch, such as what your character is wearing or how he or she is feeling. Is your character walking down the street? Is he or she sitting in a park? Is your character working on a boat? Asking what your character is doing will not only help you understand your character, but also his or her relationship to the setting in your story.
Authors may be tempted to gloss over this part of characterization. When asked what his or her character is doing, an author might give a cursory answer; he or she may answer that the subject is at the movies, for example. But consider all that there is to do at a movie theatre: Is the character waiting in line for tickets or at the concession stand? Is he or she waiting to talk to the manager? Perhaps the character is sitting impatiently waiting for the movie to begin. Getting as specific as you can when answering this question will not only help you define your character, but will also help to define the other elements of fiction.
What is your character feeling?
This is probably one of the more complex questions you can ask about your character. Is your character angry? Is he or she happy, sad, tired, or depressed? Does your character love something or someone? Asking questions about your character's emotional life might evolve into the production of a character history. While this may be tempting, you have to focus on what your subject is feeling within the context of the story you are writing. Although the answers to these questions are important, they are rarely explicitly stated in the story.
Authors may be tempted to start with the emotional or psychological state of their characters and they may even explicitly state them. This can lead to one of the cardinal sins of fiction writing: telling instead of showing. Implicitly showing how your character is feeling by his or her interactions with other characters or the setting is infinitely more interesting to read than explicitly stating whether your character is happy, sad, elated, joyful, or miserable.
Building off your character sketch
A sketch is a starting point. In the visual arts, artists carry around sketch pads to practice and develop the fundamental skills of their craft with the aim of producing paintings that seem to jump off the canvas, or sculptures that seem to move in just the right light. The same is true for authors who use character sketches. Writers use this tool to develop and rehearse one of the fundamental skills of their craft—characterization. However, the final goal is not to have a notepad full of character sketches. An author should get to know his or her character through this practice.
While not everything that an author writes in a character sketch must be included in the novel, the author should develop an in-depth and all-encompassing knowledge of every facet of the character's personality in order to create a consistent and engaging persona.
The ultimate goal of a writer is to take these character sketches and use them to craft a wonderfully engrossing, character-driven work of fiction. If you want an objective set of eyes to look at your book, try our book critique editors .
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Have You Read?
"The Complete Beginner's Guide to Academic Writing"
Creating Believable Characters
Five Habits to Avoid in Fiction Writing
How to Write a Plot
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