Character Sketch: Know Your Protagonist Inside and Out (Shayla Raquel)

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/114/114-h/114-h.htm

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/114/114-h/114-h.htm

A character sketch is an outline that asks and answers questions about your novel’s character. Ultimately, you’re finding out who your character is before he or she ever graces the proverbial page. Once completed, you’ll know how your character will behave and react in any situation. A character sketch is just as important as a novel outline, so don’t skip this step.

Characters drive your story. If you don’t know your characters, then you don’t know your story. When crafting a character sketch, keep the following in mind:

  • It’s flexible. You might realize new things about your character and tweak or edit the first draft of your character sketch.

  • Start with the easy stuff and come back to the harder questions later. It might take some time to finalize your character sketch.

  • Google or use Pinterest to look up physical characteristics of your character. That’s how you brainstorm!

  • Don’t be afraid to borrow from real life. If you know someone whose characteristics would work great for your protagonist, then jot them down.

  • Use books like The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus to help you brainstorm characteristics.

  • Fall down the rabbit hole during your research. If you’re interested in learning more about your character’s nationality, then go for it. See where all that research leads you.


THE BASICS

Name: Alice Liddel

Age: 7

Nationality: British

Location: United Kingdom; Wonderland

Occupation: N/A

Schooling: 1st grade

Talents/skills:

  • Imagination

  • Creativity

  • Poetry/reciting

Relationship status: Single

Role in novel: Protagonist

BACKSTORY

Parents: In the background and not featured in the novel

Siblings: N/A (in real life, 9 siblings)

Upbringing: Wealthy

Beliefs/religion: N/A

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Height: Short

Weight: 48 pounds (?)

Eye color: Blue

Hair color: Blonde

Skin color: White

Features:

  • Wavy, slicked-back hair

  • Furrowed eyebrows

  • Prominent nose and forehead

  • Polite gestures

Dress style:

  • Blue dress with white apron

  • White stocking with black Mary Janes

  • Ruffled sleeves

  • Pockets

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS

Mannerisms (self-conscious use of distinct style):

  • Curtsies

  • Keeps hands in front of waist

  • Tries to remain modest

Habits (done frequently/hard to give up):

  • Brings fingers to mouth when pondering

  • Clenches fists when angry

  • Proper etiquette

Flaws:

  • Alice has a very clear idea of what class is and societal norms, but Wonderland and its inhabitants challenge those ideals

  • Height (or lack thereof) gets in the way

Qualities:

  • Curiosity

  • Kindness

Pet peeves:

  • When people don’t answer her questions

  • When things don’t make sense

Speech:

  • Very proper

  • “Madam!”

  • “I beg your pardon?”

  • “Curiouser and curiouser.”

EMOTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS

Strengths:

  • She’s determined and resilient.

  • She’s good at arguing her case.

  • She’s very independent.

Weaknesses:

  • She has a hard lesson to learn about society, which she bucks at for most of the plot.

  • She doesn’t like being corrected or told what to do, especially if it’s contrary to what she’s always been taught.

Accomplishments:

  • Finding the White Rabbit

  • Defeating the Red Queen

  • Figuring out how to use the food and drink in Wonderland to make her the right size

Myers-Briggs Personality (optional):

  • INTP — Introversion | Intuition | Thinking | Perception

  • Summary: INTPs are often thoroughly engaged in their own thoughts, and usually appear to others to be offbeat and unconventional. The INTP’s mind is a most active place, and their inward orientation can mean that they neglect superficial things like home décor or appropriate clothing. They don’t tend to bother with small talk but can become downright passionate when talking about larger theoretical problems of the universe.  

In-Depth Character Q&A

What would the character like to change in his/her life?

How does the character view life?

What motivates this character?

What frightens this character?

What makes this character happy?

What is this character's major goal (in the novel)?

Why is this goal so important to this character?

Are there any events in the character's past that affect the significance of this goal?


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The Yukon Writers’ Society is an encouraging, supportive group for fiction writers in Yukon, Oklahoma. They meet biweekly on Thursdays to embrace accountability, to learn more about the craft of writing, and to help group members start and finish their books. The Yukon Writers’ Society was founded in 2016 and provides free meetings for its members. Their group anthology, Shivers in the Night, was published in April 2018.