Character Sketch Breakdown - General Information

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:


Okay, this month is going to be all about the characters – hopefully. *smile* We'll see how many posts I can get out of this topic or not.

This week, we are going to break down the character sketch worksheet I use and talk about each section in depth.

The first section contains somewhat basic information, but it can have a huge impact on the story and your character.

  • Character Name:
  • Title/Class:
  • Nickname:
  • Birth Date/Place:
  • Character Role:
Character Name

I always give my characters a first, middle, and last name. I don’t know why, but I do. Really, all you need is a first name and maybe a last name, depending on how major of a character it is. I also tend to fill in this area of the sketch last as I try to pick names that fit their personality – so I fill in everything else first then choose a name.

Choosing your characters name is something really important. Names can make or break your characters in my opinion. Find a name that resonates with your character. Look up the meaning and origin of the name. If the meaning fits (or even hugely contrasts for a bit of humor) the character's personality, you may have a good choice.

I write Fantasy and here another factor comes into play. Language and culture. How would a faery name their children? Or Elves? Dragons? Why would they choose such names? Do the names have any meaning (translation) and how does it affect the feel of the story?

As an example, the hero in my book, Burden of Prophecy is named Drache. "Drache" is actually a German word for "dragon". I chose this particular name because of Drache's personality. To me dragons are strong and confident protectors – which is the epitome of who Drache is. His middle name is "Akual" – I made this up. He has the ability to control water so I took "aqua" and tweaked the spelling, added an l at the end. TADA! New name, but it sounds similar enough that hopefully it still conjures images of water. His last name, I just made up on a whim and it just happened to fit. "Kestar" sounds powerful, I think because of the "star" aspect in the name.

How do you choose your characters names? What things do you consider when choosing - race, language, plot, personality?

Title/Class

This section is relatively easy, but for some it might require a bit of research for the story itself.

Continuing with Drache, he's a Prince. It was easy to decide on this title, but then I had do to a bit of research to learn about titles and how they work (as in passing down to children, inheriting the throne, etc). Obviously his class would be "royalty" or "nobility".

However, some characters don't have actual titles, but rather fit into a "middle" class of people. Here you can have a bit of fun depending on your type of story. In another fantasy story of mine, I have the following classes of people: Trade, Merchant, Military, and Nobility. You can choose and name your classes anyway you like and make up rules about how they interact (or don't interact) with each other. This can also require a bit of research for the story itself to learn more about how class systems work.

Nickname:

This can include a shortened form of your characters name (Like William to Will for example) or even just a funny name friends call your character (like "Spike").

Also decide who uses this nickname. Only family and friends? Does the character introduce themselves by their nickname rather than their full name? Why? Why is the important key here - how can you use the nickname to bring some depth to the character in the story? This is especially true with the nickname has a story behind it that can come out in the story at some point.

Birth Date/Place:

This section is pretty self explanatory. When is their birthday and where were they born. Now for some stories, it might not matter where they were born. In the stories I write however, it bears a major importance. The cultures I have created focus on birth place as this presents a status to others. Drache for example was born in Enthril. To other faeries in Enthril, this is not important, but it is to the other characters in the book from other countries that think anyone from Enthril is stupid and savage. (Also, to Enthril, anyone NOT born there is stupid and savage.)

Character Role:

This section is really for the author and some might think is unneeded. However, I am a fan of writing every single detail down, even if I’ll remember it off the top of my head. This is just in case I ever forget – or those times I might put the book down for a long time and come back to it later.

Roles can include "Hero", "Heroine", "Major Character", "Side Character", etc. In Burden of Prophecy and the 3 books that follow, I have different Main Characters in each book with the Main Hero and Heroine staying the same. Drache and Rosyani are the "Main Hero and Heroine" for the entire series but Letarri and Etharas are "Side Hero and Heroine" as they play an important role to the events in Books 1, 2, and 4. Farien takes over as "Side Hero" in Book 3 when the story changes location to focus on his role in the series arc. However you need to keep track of who is doing what and when, do it.

Come back Wednesday for the "Physical Apperance" section of the character sketch! Tomorrow is Teaser Tuesday so I'll be posting a scene from my WIP.

1 Response to "Character Sketch Breakdown - General Information"

Eric W. Trant Says :
September 6, 2010 at 11:15 AM

I did a little fantasy a while back, and used the old D&D character sketches with stats and everything, even drew pictures.

I am a huge stickler for names. It sounds like you put in a similar amount of thought for the names of your characters. My last guy was Evander James Gennessy.

Evander = Good Man
James = Biblical name, disciple
Genesse = A brand of beer

So it sort of means Good Man of God and Sin.

Which is what I wanted to write about.

- Eric

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