Every story needs a cast of well-developed characters. In order to engage readers they must be relatable and authentic. Without interesting, quirky, or conflicted characters narratives are flat and one dimensional.
Would Lord Voldemort be as intriguing without the glimpses into his dark childhood? The layers J.K Rowling added to his personality gives readers an insight into how flawed his psyche is. A young boy, orphaned by his dead mother and neglectful father, forced to live in a home where he isn’t understood.
How many people can relate to feeling ostracized? Everyone. We’ve all felt left out at some point in our lives. This back story for Voldemort adds the human element that connects readers to characters.
Rowling also gave Professor Albus Dumbledore human qualities that only an in-depth character analysis could achieve-his love of lemon drop candy and his affection for Gellert Grindelwald. Not only do we learn that Dumbledore cared for someone when he was young, we discover that he held some radical beliefs regarding wizards and muggles.
So simple, so unexpected, so human. Without these little character nuances, readers may grow bored, apathetic and unwilling to continue with the story.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this goal is to write a character sketch. The most basic character sketch is a list of physical traits the character possesses; more in depth ones help create a fully developed character who is uniquely human with a rich personality and flaws.
Main characters will need a more comprehensive sketch but don’t neglect to make one for minor characters. Minor characters enrich a story while adding dimension and insight into how the main character is perceived in their world.
For a list of Character Sketches click here.
My Character Sketch
Name: Matilda Kookyberry
Weight: 135 lbs.
Hair Color: Jet Black
Eye Color: Purple
Most Prominent Physical Feature: Hair
Type of Clothes: Long dresses with pinched waists and high collars, low-heeled shoes
Hygiene: Matilda’s clothes are clean, outdated and come in varying shades of purple.
Her shoes are well-worn because of the long walks she takes through the countryside. She enjoys watching the boats sail by and often dreams of taking a trip on one someday.
Friends and Family:
Parents: Russell and Aphrodite Kookyberry
Siblings: Matilda is an only child.
Best Friend: Nora Slick
A tall, thin woman who wears pencil skirts and stiletto heals. Her hair is combed back into a severe bun. A single black lock lies on her forehead like a shiny fishhook.
Other Friends: Donise Biblio the librarian
Acquaintances: Women from the quilting and arbor clubs
Pets: ferret, cats,
Work, Education and Hobbies
Education: Attended boarding school and finishing school but disliked both
Occupation: Piano teacher
Hobbies: Reading, quilting, gardening, collects butterflies and post cards
Personality: Optimist, cheerful, extrovert
How do they view themselves: Unique, great head of hair, kind, open-minded
How do others view her: Odd, kind, creative, easy to talk to, loves to talk
What did you come up with? Please share your character sketches in the comment section below.