Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Character Sketch

I recently came across some blog posts focusing on characters (I think there may have been a blogfest but I missed it).  In my "travels", I also came across this Character Chart.  I thought it was interesting and helpful.  For linear processers it will feel comfortable and for those more right-brained this chart can help organize thoughts.  As for me, to flesh out a character I need to use the senses as I find it much richer.  I'll use Shayla as an example.

Quick-List (these details originally came out as I've written her story):
15 year old female
A bit awkward, clumsy physically & socially
Colored red hair, black streaks
Long parted bangs covering eye
Enjoys writing and art
Divorced parents
Younger brother
Labeled with mental health diagnoses

OR, the actual character sketch that I wrote, which may look familiar as I included a variation of this in an earlier post:

Shayla felt like an alien transplant in a world filled with coffee shops and malls, tight clothing and short-shorts. Shayla could not stand the concrete crowds. She did not hear their thoughts. She heard their feelings, deep in her veins, pulsing through her heart. Insecurity feels like a flutter of baby bird wings not quite ready to hit the air current. Sadness feels congealed, sluggish;  blood moving through quicksand. Guilt feels like tapioca pudding. Anger matches the cliché of boiling blood combined with a brewing thunderstorm.  And happiness, well happiness tickles its way through my arteries, causing me to laugh out loud.

I used both emotional and physical feeling in this passage.  I will also explore Shalya by answering questions through story such as what color does she see the world, what song does she hum in the shower, what smell triggers a memory and what textures soothe her.  Oftentimes I will collage images for the visual and sometimes I come across an image that begs to be written.  Perhaps this is how others work with their characters as well?  [Although I've written for years, this sharing of thoughts with other writers is new to me:)]


  1. Following you via the Social Parade. Hope to see you at Dropped Stitches!

    xo Erin


    how are you,
    I wonder if you are interested in attending my poets Rally week 30.
    write a poem,
    link in, comment.
    favors are to be returned by fellow poets for sure.
    let me know only if you are ready.
    Thanks in advance!

  3. Love this, Kaelin. Specially the description of Shayla in that paragraph. the first sentence hook me up immediately. I have tried the questions to create characters and helps wonders, hope it does for you. Keep sharing and will keep in touch.

    Much love.

  4. Thanks Jingle...looks like a lot of fun, a bit intimidating though:)

    Alexandra - good to see you & thanks for the feedback! I need to get over to see you soon!

  5. Hey Kaelin, I've been using the character chart for my new book and it works wonders with my imagination. Is like it lights it up and can stop writing about that character in particular and how he/she will work on developing the story or someone else. thank you for charring it.