A character sketch is important to every writer. It provides guidelines for a consistent and realistic character. This knowledge allows the writer to know how their character will behave in any situation. Well developed characters drive the plot of a good story not the other way around.
There is no right or wrong way complete a character sketch. You may see their physical appearance first, you could think of a profession or character type you want to use, or you could decide to base a character off of someone you know. When designing characters, set aside some time to let your imagination run. Find an initial image of your character and taking off from there.
You aren’t bound to your initial sketches, you can throw it way at anytime and start over. It’s all apart of the creative process. That’s why it is important to site down think about who your character(s) are before you begin to write. Like all brainstorming exercises, the point is to start searching for ideas you love.
Here is a list of things I suggest every writer try when developing their character Sketches:
Basic physical description of the character. If you are able to draw, you can draw a basic sketch of your character first or use search engines and scroll through images until you locate one that reminds you of the character you are writing about
A proper character sketch requires:
- Height and weight
- General ethnic background (ie. “tall, blonde Scandanavian-type”)
- Defining physical characteristics (hair, beauty, glasses, typical clothing, etc.
Your character’s overall emotions and feelings. Complex characters display a wide range of emotions, but almost all people and characters can be simplified to 1 or 2 basic feelings. Most importantly, how does your character view life: optimistic, greedy, humorous, angry, oblivious, thoughtful, timid, creative, analytical? Identifying these characteristics will make it easier to maneuver more complex emotions when you start writing.
- What would their astrological sign be?
- How do they deal with hardship?
- What makes them happy? Sad? Angry?
Coming up with a name for your character. Sometimes the name comes easily but sometimes it is the hardest part of the character to nail down. For me, it is usually the hardest part. Be aware that names often change throughout the writing process, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t nail down a name right way. there are a couple different avenues you can take when naming characters:
- Search the internet for baby names websites.
- Choose meaningful names.
- Ask for help from your friends on Facebook or other social media platforms.
This is just the beginning of your character sketch. You will still need to determine the following:
- The character’s relationship to the story, world, or main character
- Your character’s back story
- Your character’s overarching motivation
I have attached some examples of character sketches that I have used in the past. I hope they help you too.