writing

Character Sketch

Start Writing Fiction | Week 5

Character Sketch Assignment: Choose one of the methods below, one which is least familiar to you, one you have never tried before:

  • Imagine a character very like you but give them a dramatic external alteration. You might make the character the opposite sex, for example, or make them significantly older or younger. You choose.
  • Imagine a character very like someone you have observed – but give them a dramatic external alteration. You might make the character the opposite sex, for example, or make them significantly older or younger. You choose.
  • Create a character purely on the basis of your imagination or intellectual conception.
  • Create a character using any of the above methods in combination.

Now write a brief character sketch, around 300–500 words, in which you reveal certain aspects of the character. Use a third-person narrator (‘he’ or ‘she’). Here are some things you might like to include in your sketch but this is not an exclusive list – you may not include all of these aspects; you may include other aspects:
appearance
feelings
current circumstances
occupation
voice
attitudes
hopes and fears

Read the assignment I wrote, below, then read the feedback I received from fellow writers.

Mr. Smith stood there with his thumbs in his belt loops and tips of his fingers in his pockets; the dark colored belt stood out against his light khaki pants. His khakis were pulled up so high, maybe it was an attempt to cover up his mid-30’s belly, but the tightly tucked-in white button-up shirt did not hide much.

He lifted his left hand to his big, round glasses and pushed them up on his long nose. He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. I wonder how he got to be so nerdy? There’s no way he has a girlfriend…

Mr. Smith turned with his side-hair slick staying in place and spoke to me in front of the class:

“Mia! Stop daydreaming and finish the reading quiz. You have 15 minutes until the end of class!”

He stormed across the front of the classroom with his hands in his pockets and plopped into his desk chair. A few students snickered at the disruption and a few giggled at the teacher making a scene.

I felt embarrassed by his reaction. So, once my cheek color turned back to normal, I promptly finished the reading quiz.

When the bell rang, I was the last one to drop the quiz off at his desk. He tilted his head down and looked over his glasses at me. “Is there a reason you are distracted today?” He asked in that fatherly tone.

“Why are you so concerned about me? Why not someone else?” 

“Because you’re my best student,” he smiled, reclined back in his seat and slid his hands behind his head, “I expect a lot from you and when I see you daydreaming I’m only trying to help.”

“I’ve had a difficult time…”

He forcefully pulled his arms down and sat up, “I get it. I’ve seen it in your writing lately,” he picked up a pen and started twirling it between his fingers, “I wanted to tell you about the high school literary journal. I think you should submit something—it can be anonymous if you choose.”

I stood in front of his desk which was a messy disarray of papers, and just held tightly onto my journal, “you mean get published?”

“Yes. Not many freshmen do it, so I think you would stand out.” He paused and stood up. “I see you write a lot about your mother. I was the same way.”

I stood there like a sponge, soaking in what he was saying, but I couldn’t believe he was being so candid with me. “I, uh—“ was then abruptly saved by the one minute warning bell.

“Go along now, you don’t want to be late to your next class.” He said with his fingers back in his pockets and he nodded his head towards the door.

I don’t know if Mr. Smith creeps me out more or makes me smile more. I guess it hurts me to see students make fun of him, for how personable he is about my writing. No other teacher has made me feel this way before.

Meet more characters in my story HERE.

4 thoughts on “Character Sketch”

  1. Some interesting writing exercises there.
    It’s easy to underdo the descriptions of your main characters – I think I can be guilty of this.
    Because the writer sees them so clearly, there can be an assumption that everybody else does too!

    Like

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