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Character Sketch: Song of the Hummingbird

Choose one of the primary characters from the novel

Song of the Hummingbird

and write a 500 word

character sketch. This should be written in essay form, using paragraphing to organize your ideas.

Character sketch: When you write a character sketch, you are trying to introduce the reader to

someone. You want the reader to have a strong mental image of the person, to know how the

person talks, to know the person’s characteristic ways of doing things, to know something about

the person’s values. A character sketch is just a snap shot of a person’s life; therefore, you

should not try to write the history of that person. As you work on this paper, you should decide

what kind of emotional reaction you want the reader to have in relation to this person. What

kind of details can you select to create that reaction? Avoid making broad, characterizing

statements; instead, let the details you give suggest general characteristics. Allow the reader to

draw his/her own conclusions. A thesis for this essay might sum up the essence of who he/she


Use these questions to develop your sketch:

1. Who is your character physically?

Physical characteristics are the first things we notice when we meet someone. Therefore, this is

a good starting point when writing a character sketch. Is your character a woman or a man? Is

he or she tall or short? Is your character bald? How old is your character? Does he or she have a

disability? Use specific examples (quotations) from the text to support your description. Use

signal words or phrases to introduce the quotations.

2. What is your character doing?

This is the next question to ask because it brings into account other aspects of story writing

such as setting and time. The answer to this question will also affect other aspects of your

sketch, such as what your character is wearing or how he or she is feeling. Is your character

walking down the street? Is he or she sitting in a park? Is your character working on a boat?

Asking what your character is doing will not only help you understand your character, but also

his or her relationship to the setting in your story.

When asked what his or her character is doing, an author might give a cursory answer; he or

she may answer that the subject is at the movies, for example. But consider all that there is to

do at a movie theatre: Is the character waiting in line for tickets or at the concession stand? Is

he or she waiting to talk to the manager? Perhaps the character is sitting impatiently waiting for

the movie to begin. Getting as specific as you can when answering this question will not only

help you define your character, but will also help to define the other elements of fiction. Use

specific examples (quotations) from the text to support your description. Use signal phrases to

introduce your quotations.

3. What is your character feeling?

This is probably one of the more complex questions you can ask about your character. Is your

character angry? Is he or she happy, sad, tired, or depressed? Does your character love

something or someone? Asking questions about your character’s emotional life might help you

understand the psychology of a character. You might illustrate this through specific language a

character uses, the comments other characters make about your character or your own

interpretation of the character’s actions. Use specific examples (quotations) from the text to

support your description. Use signal words or phrases to introduce these quotations.

Sketches should be typed, double-spaced using 12 point font and formatted using MLA Style.


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