Character Sketch
Defined in
The Ka

A Character Sketch is Developed

A character sketch is the way you define or portray each character in your story. These traits can be roughed out in draft form delineating their attributes and peculiarities or lack there of. Much of that information, but probably not all, will be included in your character set up and will help you build up that personality as the plot thickens. 

There is a fine line in what you know about your character and what you include in your story. Once you have a firm idea who and what each character is and what role they play, there is a possibility you will add too much detail to your story. Another possibility is that while you are high on the plot, with the characters dancing around in your brain, you neglect to include pertinent details. In other words, you see your character clearly... but will your reader?

One way to develop a character sketch is to make a list of your characters with a brief note about how you wish them to appear through the story. Once you establish their fingerprint, you can make lists of all their attributes. These may or may not show up in the story but helps you to see them clearly in your mind. Keep in mind that characters will lead you to take them through a character arc, so that they become a different person at the plot finale, be the change good or bad.

What follows is the character sketch list for my Egyptian suspense novel, The Ka. If you'll refer back to the Ancient Egypt History page, you'll be able to see how the first few characters are developed from their one-liners. Not all the characters show up in the beginning of the book, but appear quickly through the first chapter. And then a character sketch is developed for characters who enter later.

Notice the Character Sketch Setup for Each Person

Major Characters

A mini description for each of the plot people helps to begin to define them. This list of major characters is lengthy. Then you have a list of Minor Characters which follows. The Ka is a huge book, a long exciting and twisted story, with over 450 pages. The major characters here all present throughout the story or have major speaking parts once they appear. So let's read through these:

  1. Aaron Ashby – Archaeologist, understudy to Dr. Sterling Withers at California Institute of Archaeology (CIA).
  2. Dakarai – Madu Museum Historian and Curator
  3. Burton Forbes – Director at the CIA, Patron of the Egyptian Archaeological Trust
  4. Gracie Forbes – Burton Forbes’s patient wife
  5. Bebe Hutton – CIA Historian of great renown
  6. Kenneth Hutton – Bebe Hutton’s husband, photographer and disabled Viet Nam veteran
  7. Chione Ini-Herit – Pronounced Chee-own. Student of archaeological studies; idealist visionary; whose dreams and paranormal visions lead to the discovery of a tomb and subsequent excavations.
  8. Helen Ini-Herit – Chione's adoptive mother
  9. Jibade Ini-Herit – Chione’s second adoptive father
  10.  Tauret Khnum – The mummy, also known as Tauret-Aten or Tauret-Amon.
  11.  Kendra Laker – CIA’s Conservator of Artifacts, lover of limelight
  12.  Royce Laker – Wealthy husband of Kendra Laker, owns an accounting firm, and has an agenda
  13. all his own.
  14.  Masud – Madu Museum Historian and Curator
  15.  Ginny McLain – CIA Photographer
  16.  Naeem - Madu Museum foreman over laborers under Masud
  17.  Randy Osborne – CIA’s Physical Anthropologist, specializing in genetics and biochemistry,
  18. and whose insecurities could discredit the CIA team
  19.  Parker Philips – Director at the CIA, Patron of the Egyptian Archaeological Trust
  20.  Carmelita Philips – Self-centered wife of Parker Philips
  21.  Quaashie – Madu Museum Foreman over laborers under Dakarai
  22.  Paki Rashad – Inspector for Antiquities Society of Egypt
  23.  Clifford Rawlings – CIA’s Career Egyptologist with a sense of humor
  24.  Rita Rawlings – Devoted wife of Clifford Rawlings, former nurse
  25.  Tarik – Young Egyptian boy who befriends Chione and team members
  26.  Tutankhamon – One of the best-known Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty
  27.  Dr. Sterling Withers – Founder and CEO of California Institute of Archaeology (CIA), Director of the Egyptian Archaeological Trust
  28.  Marlowe Withers – Wife of Dr. Sterling Withers, intensely interested in the paranormal

A Character Sketch for Each Minor Character Too

Secondary Characters

Secondary Characters are those who have little to no speaking parts. The fill the background of the action, but without them, there would be no action. They complete the scene. Without them, it would be like telling someone there are three people in a room and when you look, you see only two. Minor characters fill a scene, even if only quietly, yet, they are there for a purpose. So a character sketch is in order for them too. Here are their minis:

  1. Amunet – Sorceress
  2.  Armed Guard – Questionable group of area police who wear gallibayas, and are nearly indistinguishable from the laborers
  3.  Dr. Salib Asim – Egyptian Forensic Pathologist in Cairo specializing in mummies
  4.  Bolis – Common term for the official Egyptian Police Force, who wear white uniform tunics over dark trousers
  5.  Hadden Bourne – Journalist and Archivist for the London News-Herald
  6.  Finn – Norwegian, involved in restoration of a dig site across the Valley
  7.  Edmond Hale – Reporter for the San Francisco Sentinel
  8.  Kenneth Hutton, Jr. – Bebe and Kenneth Hutton’s estranged son
  9.  Irwin – Chinese-American, cook for the CIA team
  10.  Dr. Jasper Kent – British medical research scientist based in Cairo
  11.  Meskhenet Khnum – Mother of the mummy, Tauret-Aten
  12.  Umi Khnum – Pharaoh’s clothier and father of the mummy, Tauret-Aten
  13.  Siti – Egyptian woman, servant at the dig site
  14.  Carol Stockard – Reporter for the San Francisco Sentinel
  15.  Radcliffe Stroud – Photojournalist for the London News-Herald
  16.  Terji – Norwegian, Foreman restoring a separate dig site across the Valley
  17.  Usi – Dakarai's cousin
  18.  Peter Vimble – British physician in Cairo and Luxor
  19.  Yafeu – Egyptian, cook for the CIA team
  20.  Elbertina Yago – Gypsy, artifacts procurer, eldest Yago sibling
  21.  Emilio Yago – Eldest Yago brother, younger than Elbertina
  22.  Claudio Yago – Middle Yago brother
  23.  Rogelio Yago – Youngest Yago brother

A Character Sketch Such as a List Is a Great Way to Start

If you find yourself at a point in developing personalities for your story, try a character sketch. You won't disappoint yourself. Dig deep into known personality traits a attribute some of these gems to your characters, or give them some contrived quirks. Trust your mind and write only for yourself.

I highly recommend writing a character sketch for every single character, if only a sentence or two for the minor ones.

Finally, I hope these lists entice you to investigate this suspense novel, The Ka. My four years of research and four additional years of writing this behemoth has provided me wonderful learning lessons. I wish the same for every writer.

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