Character Sketch Guidelines
A Character Sketch is a great way for your student to assess the characters in the literature they are reading or people that they are researching about. It can give them tools of observation as they look at the many details about another individual.
When studying a specific character in a literary piece the sketch gives the student the freedom to be a detective and try to find out what the author is expressing through their characters. They can sketch the protagonist ( the favorable hero or heroine in the story,) or the antagonist ( the character which causes the conflict for the main character), or the supporting characters. Assigning this kind of paper sharpens the skill of observation and note-taking as they focus on one specific character and the traits that make them ‘who they are’ in the book.
Can you write a sketch without a book to study? Absolutely! A great way to give them practice for writing from a literary piece is to sketch someone they know in real-life. Choosing someone they admire makes it both fun and encouraging. ( Plus what a blessing it would be to share it with the person they are writing about.)
When you are writing a Character Sketch, want to look for qualities of character and/or personality traits that you see in the person you want to write about. The main goal of the assignment is to be able to tell something about the person you are researching. Think of it like an introduction. In essence, you are introducing the reader to the person you are writing about.
Be sure to use strong visual words in your writing. You want to provide a lasting mental image of the person or character you are writing about. The use of quality adjectives and feeling in your writing, using words that relate to the five senses, elicit an emotional response from your reader. This will allow your reader to not only connect with you and the character but will show how you felt when reading a piece or spending time with the person you are writing about.
A character sketch is not a history of the person; however, this type of paper requires you to give only a brief glimpse of the individual. When you are preparing to write make a list of the traits or details you want to include. If you have a word limit on the assignment it is possible to assign the number of traits equal to the # of paragraphs or supporting topics needed. Or you can categorize the subjects into a broader spectrum which allows you to have multiple supporting points for each topic. It is always best to outline your writing material first so you have a good idea what you are writing.
Your outline should include descriptions on the following details:
° Tell about their physical features. ( hair color, height, etc.)
° Tell about the character’s personality. ( are they funny, serious, quiet, etc.?)
° Their likes or dislikes( What you know about their preferences and why?)
° Talk about their family ( siblings, family history, etc)
° What are their beliefs or hobbies?
° Include anything that makes us see “who” they are.
° What do you like or dislike about them?
° Why are you drawn to them?
Here is a sample outline for you to follow. It is a basic 5 paragraph ( approximately 500 wd essay outline) Feel free to take this and make it your own or make your own outline using this a s a guide.
This section will introduce the character and is typically the 1st paragraph in your paper. It should include the following:
- Your thesis statement ( the overall theme of the paper or the main idea of what you are writing) . The Thesis statement should include the most important character traits.
- The subtopics ( these become the topic sentence in your body paragraphs) should be included in this paragraph as well. For example: use 1 – 2 sentences to list the traits that you are going to talk about. End with a transition sentence that ties into the 2nd paragraph.
This is paragraphs 2-4 or the in between paragraphs. The body comes between the Introduction and the Conclusion. These paragraphs detail the traits listed as the subtopics from the Introduction. Those subtopics should be the topic sentences in each body paragraph.
- Always try to include the most important trait 1st, the second most important detail next, and so on. Each paragraph has 1 trait which is discussed in detail. Include information about experiences that support the trait which is being discussed.
- Remember! You want to pull your reader in so include details that will connect them to your main character.
This is the last paragraph in your paper. Try to conclude with a final comment, pointed and well-expressed, that highlights the traits discussed in the paper.
- Restate your thesis statement.
- Remind the reader of your most important points.
- Close with a solid statement which finalizes all you are trying to communicate to the reader.
Remember a good paragraph is 3-7 sentences. All sentences need to have a subject and a predicate. They should be a complete thought. Utilize tools of dress up in your writing. ie: quality adjectives, strong verbs, adverbs, prepositions, adverbial and or adjectival clauses etc. A GREAT resource for this is the IEW Student Resource Notebook which you can find on the Institute for Excellence in Writing Website.
Last point! RE-read your papers. I always encourage my students to write their rough draft and then walk away for at least a day or two. Then go back with FRESH eyes and re-read it. Always have someone else read it through for those little editing mistakes it is easy to miss in your own writing.
Character Sketch Guidelines
Writing any paper starts with writing an outline. The same is with writing a biography. The outline helps you stay on the right track as well as keep your thoughts and ideas organized. Basically, in any biography you talk about a person and what he or she is famous for, how this person got to where he or she is now, about their personal life and achievements. Actually, when I was applying for a job in one of the governmental institutions, I was asked to write my biography. This task is an easy one simply because the only person who truly knows all of me is me. But this could also be a problem since I could go overboard and write a character biography instead of my professional bio. That is why creating an outline was a solution to my problem. Below, I included a couple of templates I came up with while writing my own biography.
BIOGRAPHY OUTLINE TEMPLATE #1
- Early life
- Place and date of birth
- This person’s parents and what they do/did
- Place of living and school
- Further education, if applicable
- First and other jobs
- Name of person’s wife(s)/husband(s) and date of marriage, if applicable
- Number and name of children, if any
- Place of living
- What this person is famous for
- When he/she first become interested in this field
- When he/she was first recognized
- Most important events
- Most challenging and exciting times
- Trips abroad and people he/she met, if any
- Awards, if any
- Current life (if this person is still alive)
- Current place of living
- What he/she is doing now
- Upcoming important event
- Later life (if this person isn’t alive now)
- Things he/she did at the end of his/her life
- Place and date of death
- Place of burial
- Author’s feeling about this person
- Kind of feelings and why you feel them
- Your thoughts on his/her most important things
BIOGRAPHY OUTLINE TEMPLATE #2
- Things and reasons for his/her fame
- Date and place of birth
- A couple of important events that happened in his/her childhood
- Influences and challenges
- People, events, or/and ideas that affected this person
- The most important decisions
- Challenges and how he/she overcame them
- Achievements and accomplishments
- The most important things he/she did
- What and/or who helped him/her succeed
- Influence of this person on his/her contemporaries and the entire world
- How this person affects you personally
BIOGRAPHY OUTLINE TEMPLATE #3
- Early life
- Name, date and place of birth
- Family background
- Hobbies and interests
- Two or three important childhood events or facts
- Education, career and accomplishments
- Date and place of studying and major
- What kind of jobs he/she did and what made him/her famous
- Achievements, awards and other facts
- Later life
- Marriage and children
- Some interesting facts
- Date and place of death
On the whole, writing an outline is the art of preciseness and figuring out the most essential things out of tons of information. You, basically, summarize what you want to say by using bullets, letters, or numbers or all the mentioned. And remember not to write whole sentences or paragraphs for one point. Be precise and use only phrases that emphasize the most important things, events, etc. but if you don’t have time to create your own outline, feel free to use biography outline templates from the above.