I’ve been deep in the middle of revisions to my middle grade novel and there is one character that I haven’t quite figured out. Then I realized that I don’t know that character very well. For each of my characters, including my secondary characters, I do what is called a character sketch. I write out their personal histories, their character traits, and their purpose in the story. Which leads me to today’s writing exercise: character sketches.
First, I want you to make a list of your character’s quirks and personality traits. Do they hate the sound of loud chewing? Do they rub one eyebrow when they are thinking? Be specific and detailed.
After you make a list of character traits, think about your character’s personal history or backstory. Where do they come from? Do they have family? What has happened in their past that makes them who they are today? Is it tragic or happy? Write these details down.
Next, I want you think about your character’s purpose in the story. What is their goal? Keep in mind this can change as the story moves forward. What do they want out of life?
If you don’t have a character in mind, chose a character from a book you’ve read. Examine them. Write down their character traits, backstory, and what they want in their story. This will give you an idea of how to develop your own characters.
Get detailed and write down everything that comes to mind.
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