Write a character sketch about somebody you know well.
characterization, character sketch, writing, expository writing, character, graphic organizer
In this lesson, students write a character sketch about somebody they know well -- for example, a parent, best friend, relative, or neighbor. After they have mastered the art of writing a character sketch of somebody familiar, they can transfer their character-sketch writing skills to a character sketch about a character in a novel or another piece of literature.
Explain to students what a character sketch is: A character sketch highlights several important characteristics or personality traits of a person -- a real person, a person in literature, or an imagined person. A good character sketch provides support detail for each identified trait.
Share with students the model character sketch that appears below. You might cut and paste it into a Word document and provide a copy for each student, or print out this lesson and photocopy the sketch below onto an overhead transparency.
My friend Liz is a true best friend. She always supports me in everything I want to do. When I wanted to go up North, she said she thought it would be a great experience and that it would help me develop my sense of adventure.
Liz is not only a great supporter. She also trusts me to give her my honest opinion and to say what I feel. When she was upset with her sister one time, she asked what I thought about it and I said she should wait and then she would find out the real reason why her sister was mad at her. And it happened that way. She knew she could trust me.
Liz can be a barrel of fun when she is in the mood. I really like when she does silly things. One night, we rented three movies and watched all three while we ate popcorn, cheese and crackers, and a whole box of chocolates. We gabbed about everything and even imagined what it would be like to live like some of the characters in the movies.
Since my best friend is now living over 500 miles away, I miss all the laughter she brought to my life and the times I could ask her opinion on things that troubled me. But I can still hear the sound of her voice and ask her opinion on the telephone!
Point out that in the character sketch above, the writer highlighted what he or she felt were some of Liz's best qualities or character traits. For each trait or characteristic, the writer provided at least one detail that supported -- served as proof -- that Liz possessed that trait. The character sketch form below provides a simple outline for a character sketch. Have students work on their own or in small groups as they use the form to discuss the character sketch above. The form will help them identify
Character Sketch Format/Graphic Organizer
Topic Sentence: ____________________________________________________
Trait #1 _________________________________
Trait #2 _________________________________
Trait #3 _________________________________
Concluding Sentence: ____________________________________________________
Set aside time for students to share their work. Ask: What traits did the writer admire in Liz?
Then invite students to share some other traits people might have that would be worthy of inclusion in a character sketch. (You might do this as a class activity or have students first brainstorm traits in their small groups.) Write of list of those traits as students identify them. Some traits might include loyalty, kindness, and determination.
Have students use a graphic organizer form similar to the one above to formulate ideas for a character sketch about someone they know well; the form will help them organize their thinking before writing. Emphasize the importance of providing good, strong supporting details for each characteristic. Help students who seem to be having difficulty identifying traits or providing supporting details. After they have filled in the spaces on the graphic organizer, students are ready to write their sketches.
This is a good activity to do around holiday time, Mother's Day, or Father's Day. You might have students laminate their completed sketches to present as gifts to the subject of their sketches.
When you are comfortable that students have mastered the concept of a character sketch, have them use the format to create a character sketch of a character from a book, story, poem, play, or other piece of literature.
Students write a character sketch that includes all the important elements defined in the lesson above.
Pauline Finlay, Holy Trinity Elementary School, Torbay, Newfoundland (Canada)