How to write a character sketch

Creating Fictional Characters

When you prepare to write a short story or novel, it is important for you to create realistic characters. In this guide, you will learn how to create a character sketch of your protagonist.

Creating a character sketch, which is an outline for your protagonist or other characters, will benefit you when you want to write a fictional story or novel because you will know your protagonist’s outward appearance and his or her personality.

In the picture on the left, you see a man walking in the fog. Looking at pictures can help you create realistic characters. However, when you create a character sketch, you won’t have a picture. A character sketch is like a visual picture. You have to create it so your readers can visualize your protagonist. By looking at the character sketch, your readers will see him or her as if they were seeing the actual picture.

You can create a character sketch by asking yourself questions about your protagonist and writing the answers in your character sketch. That’s what you will learn in this guide.


Step 1

What is a character sketch?

A character sketch is an outline of the character’s life such as physical appearance, where the person lives, occupation, possessions, education, personality, hobbies, interests, and other traits.

When you start to develop a character sketch of your protagonist, you need to take each character trait and ask yourself questions about your character. For example, «Where does the person live?»

The questions you ask will help you develop your character. As you continue with your sketch, you will realize that your fictional character has become realistic, and your readers will visualize your character, too.

Step 2

Physical appearance and possessions

The easiest character trait to describe is the character’s physical appearance. You start by describing how the character looks physically such as size of physical stature, color and length of hair, color of eyes, and what kind of clothes he or she wears. You can also mention the main character’s favorite colors and his or her possessions.

Let’s look at the following characters.

Christy and Megan Parker, who are identical twins, are both slender, have long golden brown hair, and tawny brown eyes. However, Christy’s hair is a shade lighter than Megan’s, but people still have trouble knowing which one is which. Since they were identical twins, they preferred to dress alike, and they liked the same colors.

When they were younger, they shared a bedroom, and now they have their own cars and they live together in their own house.

Step 3


A protagonist’s personality is more difficult to create, but it’s not impossible if you think of your character as a realistic person. Let’s look at the two characters: Christy and Megan.

Christy’s Personality

Christy always wanted to be honest about the things she did or didn’t accomplish because she wanted to avoid being disciplined. Christy believed in God and wanted to do the right thing, but she didn’t want Megan to get punished, so she decided to follow Megan when she wanted to solve a mystery. However, there were times when Christy enjoyed being sneaky. When they became adults and were on their own, Christy still wanted to be available to help Megan.

Megan’s Personality

Megan wanted to be honest, but sometimes she ended up in a situation where she lied. She wanted to be perfect because she felt like everyone would like her better. If she made any mistakes, she became upset.

Christy and Megan’s mother wanted them to dress differently so they could develop their own personality. Megan became upset because she wanted to be like Christy, so she devised a scheme where she could dress like Christy.

Megan put on a different top, but she had the same top as Christy’s under it. When they were outside, Megan took off her top layer and hid it under some leaves by a tree. Now, they were dressed alike. However, when they returned home, Megan found out that her top she hid was wet. She didn’t know what to do at first, but she came up with a sneaky plan as usual.

This description reveals how realistic Megan is because most children attempt to do something sneaky so they won’t get caught.

Step 4

Their interests

One way to describe characters is to reveal their interests and create them realistically. For example, Christy and Megan have the same interests. Let’s look at the following description.

Christy and Megan enjoyed going outside and sitting under their favorite cedar tree and talking about their day or their feelings. They liked to relax in the evening and listen to Christian music, watch television, write in their journals, write short stories and books, or read their mystery novels. They became junior detectives when they were younger, and later one, they became private detectives. They enjoyed solving mysteries.

Things Needed
• Spiral notebook
• Pens or pencils
• White Outs or erasers
• Post-It notes
• Computer and printer

Tips & Warnings
• Make sure you have a list of character traits for your protagonist
• Write out the information about each character trait
• Use the post-it notes when an idea comes to you


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