Click here to read the article in Coffee House Writers.
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Hygiene: Matilda’s clothes are clean, outdated and come in varying shades of purple.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.
Describe or List What Someone Would Use The Apple For.
Write your fairytale!
I titled this as another Story Starter but after completing the task a more apt name would have been Story Challenge.
It’s taken me a few days to write a list of descriptions for each of the 5 senses for the picture. Sometimes I agonize over words which then hinders my productivity.
Many authors describe landscapes so fluidly and with such finesse that I become intimidated. But, I refuse to let that stop me from working on my craft and sharing what I’ve composed. I know I need to improve in this area so that’s what I’m doing.
I’m not overly pleased with every description but at least I did it. To improve my technique, I will continue adding to the lists I created.
Lush green hills surmounted by gray mountain tops
Thick clouds marbleized with patches of blue and smoky gray
A river surrounded by hills crowded with trees
A lake enclosed by hills thick with trees
A castle sitting on a hill rising above a small town
The sun is shining down
Water lapping at the shorline
The scurry of furry feet over grass
The sweet scents of pine and spruce
A clean wind blew from the south rustling leaves and tufts of grass
Earthy aroma of dirt and grass
The smell of pine and spruce was so thick the scent clung to my taste buds caramel candy
I chewed on a piece of grass savoring the bittersweet flavor
A lazy wind brushed my face
Branches reached out to tickle my arms and legs
The sun felt warm on my scalp
How are you at describing landscapes? I’d love to read your descriptions.