Creating a Character Sketch Exercise

Growing Your Character

By Annette Rey

There probably are as many ways to create a character as there are writers. Here is a quick way to get started and put meat on his bones.

All of the conventional approaches aside, one of the best ways to flesh out your character is to place him in one of your memories. Put him in a scene in your life, and write him as you think he would act in that place and time. Since the memory has already written itself in your mind, it takes little effort to write the scene with your character in mind.

You have all the flexibility to make him a hero or a villain, strong or weak, honest or a liar. You can change the circumstances and the outcome of the memory by bringing this new person into the act. Write several versions. There are no restrictions.

A helpful guide to begin this process is to make a list of particular traits you envision he possesses. Highlight the most important traits. Put this list next to your computer and begin writing your memory, plugging him and his responses into the sentences. Write without stopping, let the memory flow. Your character will grow as you go.

This is a unique technique to get your character on the page. He will surprise you as he comes alive, as if he is writing himself into your life. Once you examine him, you will discover things you did not know about him. Add those discoveries to your list.

This sounds simple and it is. I’m all about making writing easier and more fun, and being relaxed in the creative process. Give this exercise a try. Your character will thank you.





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