Writing Hint #31: Write a character sketch

I quite often use a warm up writing exercise before I begin the main writing tasks or projects for the day. Sometimes I write in my journal and sometimes I write a new short fiction story.

Writing exercises:

Another good writing exercise is to write character sketches. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Choose a person you know well: write a character sketch about that person.
  2. Sit on a bench in a park: observe the other people there and choose one person to write about.
  3. Go to your favourite coffee shop: observe the other people having coffee and write about one of them.
  4. Watch the first ten minutes of a movie you’ve never seen before with the sound turned off: write a character sketch of one of the characters in the film.
  5. Choose a photo of a person from a magazine, someone you know nothing about: write a character sketch about that person.
  6. Read through the death notices in your local newspaper, choosing one person you have never heard of before: write a character sketch about that person.
  7. Choose a name at random from the telephone directory: write about that person.

What to include:

  • Describe the appearance of the person, both body features and clothing.
  • Outline about four or five major events in the person’s life.
  • Describe the person’s personality.
  • Write down three or four sayings the person loves to use in everyday life.
  • List the preferred food, drinks and recreational activities of your character.

Follow up activity:

If the character sketch becomes so interesting and powerful as you write, how about letting the character take over and tell his or her own story? There might well be a short story lurking there waiting to be released. Perhaps even a novel?

Good writing.

Further reading:

  • Writing hints – an archive of articles full of writing hints and ideas.
  • Short fiction – a listing of short stories I’ve written as writing exercises.
  • Short story starters – a series of articles listing many ideas to start you off with writing stories. (Very popular)

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