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A Useful Guide to Writing a Character Sketch

Writing a Character Sketch

Create Your Character’s Inner World and Delve into It

Which are quintessential elements of fiction? Characters, indeed. The process of construction of impeccable characters requires genuine mastery of imagination. Even if you’re a beginner in the vineyards of creative writing, you shouldn’t be afraid of this task. There’s one little secret that helps your ideas flow – a character sketch. It helps you to depict your characters, endowing them with unique features. It’s easy to write a character sketch by means of asking particular questions. Of course, these questions can be endless, especially if you intend to write something epic. So, you should be able to determine the major qualities of your protagonists and antagonists. We’ve come up with a few basic questions to help you out. And one brief creative advice: imagine it’s an interview with your Muse.

How Does Your Character Look?

Though many writers endow their characters with vague appearance to induce readers’ imagination, well-described physical features help your audience not only visualize a certain individual or creature but also build an attitude towards this character. For instance, if you want the reading public to like your character, it’s not enough to write “She was a fair-haired girl with blue eyes”. This simple description makes readers imagine an ordinary girl they see every day and it doesn’t evoke interest. It’s essential to switch your imagination on from the very beginning. Immerse yourself in imagery – figurative language is the greatest ally of good authors.

For example: “Was she beautiful? You couldn’t understand it at first sight but then you were gradually falling in love. Her face was a pale canvas for romantic imagination. Her thin lips made her look slightly reserved when she didn’t smile. But she was lucky to inherit a classic straight-edged nose and flowing ginger hair that made the atmosphere around her both warmer and more dangerous. She had deep blue eyes that resembled dark opals, especially when her mood suddenly changed and these bottomless lakes of her soul sparkled with an evil taunt.”

When describing appearance, the following questions are always relevant:

Is he or she beautiful or ugly? Does your character have long hair or short hair? Are his or her eyes slanting or protruding? How often does he or she smile or cry?

Is Your Character Good or Evil?

This question is aimed to decide if you create a hero, an antagonist, or a villain. The description of the appearance often alludes to your character’s inner world. For instance, when E. T. A. Hoffmann portrayed his Little Zaches, you couldn’t help but feel the aversion towards this awkward creature that resembled an ugly mandrake. This portrayal alluded that Zaches was the embodiment of the repugnant features. Anyway, besides inventing the appearance, you should concentrate on your character’s thoughts and intentions.

Questions to ask: What’s your character’s mission? Does your character help or hurt people? What thoughts overwhelm your hero/anti-hero? Is he or she violent or kind-hearted?

These questions determine the psychological background of your characters.

Does Your Character Have Supernatural Abilities?

This question helps to choose whether your fictional work will be realistic or fantastic one. You can also unite the elements of realism and fantasy in one work by creating contradictory characters: one representing an ordinary world and being averse to superstitions, outlandish phenomena and any kind of magic, and another one personifying the fantastic dimension, not only the belief in the supernatural but impressive magic abilities. A vivid example of contrasts between the usual world and the magical world can be found in J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.

The main questions to ask: Is your character an ordinary human/extraordinary human or extraterrestrial/supernatural being? Does he or she believe in magic? Is your protagonist aware of time travel and other worlds?

Generating a character sketch is a captivating part of a writing process. It’s not only entertaining and imaginative, but it’s also a pillar of your plot. A writer is an artist that creates his masterpieces with the help of words.

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