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Notes, tutorials, exercises, thoughts, workshops and resources about writing or storytelling art

How to Write Character Sketches (Part 3)

As I told you in the part 1 of this series, character bibles are used to define the story’s main characters during the pre-writing stage. These sketches must be as detailed as possible. In this way, you’ll be clear about your characters’ appearance, peculiarities, virtues, shortcomings, customs, relationships, etc. Think about actors and actresses who must be very familiar with the characters they play in order to make a good performance. A writer who gathers information about a character faces a similar job.

Feel free to create the type of character sketch that best suits you. If you don’t know where to start, you can use the character sketch outline that I use for my stories. In my opinion, this document covers the most important points of a sketch. Let’s take a closer look at them:

1. General Features

You know that I like to organize my sketches by number and add their creation date. I also make note of what story they belong to. Next, I write the character’s name or nickname with its corresponding origin and meaning. I also like to add the character’s role in the story (protagonist, antagonist, mentor, driver, tempter, etc.) and specify in which part of the plot (s)he participates. In addition, I jot down his/her gender, age, marital status, studies, occupation, and place of residence (rented or owned).

2. Appearance

In this section, I write about the character’s appearance: physical features, clothes, gestures, manners, etc. I tend to pay attention to the features that make a character different from everyone else (a scar on the face, whether (s)he wears glasses, etc.).

3. Personality

I think it’s important to include information about their character traits. Search for the adjectives that best define your character and the way (s)he sees himself/herself as well as the way others describe him or her. Remember to reflect on your character’s hobbies, fears, phobias, fixations, dreams, and goals.

4. Family and Friends

It can be very useful to make note of information about the parents of each characters including their names, jobs, ages, and type of relationship with their son or daughter. You can include other relevant data such as hobbies or events that marked them deeply.

In scenarios where your main character has siblings, a partner, children, or other intimate acquaintances, record them as well, and don’t forget about their name, age, and relationship with the main character, etc.

5. Biography

Past Events – Include a short summary of your character’s most important life experiences before the beginning of the story.

Present Circumstances – Add an explanation of your character’s situation in life when the story begins.

Future Events – Make a brief explanation of how the storyline will affect your character’s life in the future.

6. Relationships and Other Notes

In this section, include the rest of the characters and state how they met your main character, the type of relationship (s)he has with them, and how it affects their life and their actions.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to leave blank space for random notes and observations.

Related posts:

How to Write Character Sketches (Part 1)
How to Write Character Sketches (Part 2)
How to Present your Characters

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