Hampton Roads Writers

Characterization


Create character sketches


This is a good exercise to perform on a regular basis in your journal. Sometimes you can just create characters as they occur to you, at other times it is good to create characters of people you see or meet. Some of the best sketches are inspired by people you don't really know but get a brief view of, like someone sitting in a restaurant or standing by a car that has been in an accident. Ask yourself who they are, what they are about. The fact that you don't really know the person will free you up to make some calculated guesses that ultimately have more to say about your own vision of the world than they do about the real person who inspired the description. That's okay, you are NOT a reporter, and ultimately the story you intend to tell is YOUR story.

1. Write a character sketch strictly as narrative description, telling your reader who the character is without having the character do or say anything.

2. Now revise the above to deliver the character to the reader strictly through the character's actions.

3. Revise the above to deliver the character strictly through the character's speech to another character.

4. Next revise the above to deliver the character strictly through the words/actions of another character (the conversation at the water fountain about the boss).

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