Topic In Instructions–Character Sketch

Creative Assignment #7: Character SketchThis week we transition from poetry to fiction. No more line breaks, y’all. The next few assignments willfocus on a few fundamental aspects of fiction: character, dialogue, point-of-view/perspective, gettinginside a character’s head. Our engagement with fiction will culminate in Week 10 with a short shortstory of our own (often called micro-fiction or flash fiction). You can use material from the assignmentsleading up to the piece of flash fiction in your flash fiction piece, or you can write about an entirely newset of characters/situations.This week, we’ll be working on a character sketch. You’ll create and detail a fictional character.Compelling characters form the foundation of a good story—they present us with all the complexity,conflicts, and contradictions of the human condition. They do memorable things. They say memorablethings. We can often see ourselves in them, but they can also give us insight into worlds, experiences,and perceptions that our not our own. While a good character sketch focuses on the basics of acharacter—age, gender, physical appearance, occupation (if any), social status, vocal and physicalmannerisms—it also extends into an engagement with deeper, more intimate aspects of a character’spersonality, psychology, world views, and personal motivations. It might be helpful to think of thischaracter sketch as one half surface description/detail and one half psychological analysis/investigation.In these sketches, I want you to describe the character in the 3rd person, and while you will likelydescribe things that they like to do or interesting things they have done, the sketch should not turn intoa narrative. Think of it as a creative description from multiple angles, giving us as much info about andinsight into the character as possible. The title for the character sketch should be the character’s name.The sketch should be in paragraph form. There are multiple resources in the Learning Module thatshould help you if you get stuck, along with some fun, short examples of character sketches fromMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency. I’d like you to shoot for around 500 words in these sketches, and if youget inspired, feel free to write more.You can write a character sketch that simply adheres to the relatively broad suggestions/guidelinesabove, or, if you like, you can add one of the following wrinkles to the mix:1) Make the character a composite of three people you know relatively well. Do not mention whothese people are in the sketch.2) Make the character a composite of three historical figures or figures from popular culture, butdo not, under any circumstances, name the historical figures who form the basis of the sketch.You have created an entirely new being. The role these other beings played in the creation ofyour character are not relevant to our understanding of your character.

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