Character Sketch

Brief Description

Write a character sketch about the suspect you have been studying in the webquest


Students will

  • Gather and arrange data on their suspect, and use this information to create a general description of the suspect (a ‘character sketch’) . The information they gather will be outlined on the graphic information form below.
  • write an interesting sketch that includes the proper elements of a character sketch.


characterization, character sketch, writing, expository writing, character, graphic organizer

Materials Needed

  • a "model" character sketch -- text provided below (a copy for each student, or an overhead projector to display the model to the entire class)

The Lesson

In this lesson, students write a character sketch about their suspect. In this sketch they will apply the information they have gathered, including the clues, from the webquest, and use it to create a description of the character’s day to day life.

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.


Sample Character Sketch

The suspect in question appears to be an architect. I concluded this not only from the blueprint that I found in his room at the inn, but also from some of the places he visited during the day. He traveled to a quarry, where he talked to the quarrymaster about the quality of the stone that was been cut, and when it could be delivered, and the cost. He visited the church in town, where he talked to the priest about the new church that was to be built, and he visited the building site, where he talked to the workers about the design of the building, and asked for some changes to be made. From all of this I concluded that he was the architect in charge of building the new church.

Being an architect is not an easy job, I found that the architect had to understand geometry. He had to be able to find and organize the workforce of masons, carpenters, smiths, glaziers and all the other craftsmen and their laborers. In his work people believed he reflected the work of God, the Great Architect, who had designed the world .


As an architect, the suspect was involved in most levels of medieval society. He dealt with the lower classes, in hiring workers, and in meeting with them and discussing the features of the buildings being constructed. He knew and met with the higher levels of society as these were most often the people who hired him and had new buildings built. He was very well paid, and most architects were very well-off, financially.


The suspect was free to travel wherever he wished, and did not attract a great deal of notice when he did. However, once a building was begun, especially a large one, it was possible that the architect could spend the rest of his life overseeing that construction, as some of the larger buildings took more than a single lifetime to complete.

The suspect is well educated, including have an excellent knowledge of mathematics, reading, geology, and other subjects necessary to his trade.

As the suspect was well off financially, I doubt that money would be a motive for him to be a spy. Since the construction projects took such a long time, and required so much money to build, it is unlikely that the suspect would want to see any great changes in government or politics, such as a war, that might disturb his building project or the constant flow of money needed to pay for it. Therefore, I do not believe that this suspect would have the motive to be a spy.


Point out that in the character sketch above, the writer highlighted what he or she felt were some of suspect’s identifying qualities or character traits. For each trait or characteristic, the writer provided at least one detail that supported -- served as proof -- that the suspect 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

  • the qualities/character traits that the writer noted about the suspect.
  • details/examples to support those traits.


Character Sketch Format/Graphic Organizer

Topic Sentence: ____________________________________________________

Trait #1 _________________________________
Example(s) __________________________________________

Trait #2 _________________________________
Example(s) __________________________________________

Trait #3 _________________________________
Example(s) __________________________________________

Concluding Sentence: ____________________________________________________

Click Here For Word Version of Character Sketch Format/Graphic Organizer

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.

As a warm-up to this activity, you may have the students write a character sketch about someone they know, based on the idea of “What do you like most about this person?”


Students write a character sketch that includes all the important elements defined in the lesson above.

Use the following rubric to evaluate the character sketch


6+1 Trait Writing Model : Character Sketch Rubric

Teacher Name: ___________________________________








Student Name:     ________________________________________












Word Choice

Writer uses vivid words and phrases that linger or draw pictures in the reader's mind, and the choice and placement of the words seems accurate, natural and not forced.

Writer uses vivid words and phrases that linger or draw pictures in the reader's mind, but occasionally the words are used inaccurately or seem overdone.

Writer uses words that communicate clearly, but the writing lacks variety, punch or flair.

Writer uses a limited vocabulary that does not communicate strongly or capture the reader's interest. Jargon or cliches may be present and detract from the meaning.

Introduction (Organization)

The introduction is inviting, states the main topic and previews the structure of the paper.

The introduction clearly states the main topic and previews the structure of the paper, but is not particularly inviting to the reader.

The introduction states the main topic, but does not adequately preview the structure of the paper nor is it particularly inviting to the reader.

There is no clear introduction of the main topic or structure of the paper.

Sequencing (Organization)

Details are placed in a logical order and the way they are presented effectively keeps the interest of the reader.

Details are placed in a logical order, but the way in which they are presented/introduced sometimes makes the writing less interesting.

Some details are not in a logical or expected order, and this distracts the reader.

Many details are not in a logical or expected order. There is little sense that the writing is organized.

Transitions (Organization)

A variety of thoughtful transitions are used. They clearly show how ideas are connected.

Transitions clearly show how ideas are connected, but there is little variety.

Some transitions work well; but connections between other ideas are fuzzy.

The transitions between ideas are unclear or nonexistent.

Accuracy of Facts (Content)

All supportive facts are reported accurately.

Almost all supportive facts are reported accurately.

Most supportive facts are reported accurately.

NO facts are reported OR most are inaccurately reported.

Support for Topic (Content)

Relevant, telling, quality details give the reader important information that goes beyond the obvious or predictable.

Supporting details and information are relevant, but one key issue or portion of the storyline is unsupported.

Supporting details and information are relevant, but several key issues or portions of the storyline are unsupported.

Supporting details and information are typically unclear or not related to the topic.

Focus on Topic (Content)

There is one clear, well-focused topic. Main idea stands out and is supported by detailed information.

Main idea is clear but the supporting information is general.

Main idea is somewhat clear but there is a need for more supporting information.

The main idea is not clear. There is a seemingly random collection of information.

Pacing (Organization)

The pacing is well-controlled. The writer knows when to slow down and elaborate, and when to pick up the pace and move on.

The pacing is generally well-controlled but the writer occasionally does not elaborate enough.

The pacing is generally well-controlled but the writer sometimes repeats the same point over and over, or spends too much time on details that don't matter.

The pacing often feels awkward to the reader. The writer elaborates when there is little need, and then leaves out necessary supporting information.

Click Here For Printable Version of Rubric


This lesson has been modified from a general lesson on character sketch writing, created by Pauline Finlay, Holy Trinity Elementary School, Torbay, Newfoundland (Canada)
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