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What Purpose Do Assignments Such As Character Sketches, Serve?

Are they meant only for those who are inclined towards literary pursuits? How about those who have no intention of writing a story ever in the future?

Recent writing allocations at the Young Executives’ Club were about character sketches. Character sketches can take the form of bullet points or they could be written as descriptive essays depending on what the writer is comfortable with.

Young Executives shared their experiences of working on this allocation

It was interesting how they chose to talk about character sketches from two perspectives: The Writer’s perspective & the reader’s perspective. Everyone agreed that it is important from a writer’s point of view. It got interesting when we talked about it from the reader’s point of view.

Absolutely useless for someone who has no intention of ever writing a story in the future.

The above statement was made in the context of school assignments for which students have to slog away trying to write a character sketch essay based on a book they have read.

Evidently, working on a character sketch essay of this kind for grades is a chore.

Finding shortcuts to finish a chore

Typical tendency of students to finish a character sketch essay is to quickly look up for ready made essays, skilfully pick up sentences/paragraphs and assemble them together in the hope of procuring good marks. This amounts to plagiarism, an issue that is not often discussed in schools. Read to find out how a journalist got into serious trouble for doing what students often choose to do.

Plagiarism is wrong irrespective of what level it is committed.

Character Sketch assignments offer a lot more than helping a student with literary inclination. They help teach some very useful skills.

  • Inference & Observation:

As a reader, to be able to write a character sketch, one needs to be able to infer and observe the way the author has dealt with the character. Inference as a skill is immensely useful in almost every occupation, come to think of it. One may be reading reports, analysing findings of a study, doing a performance appraisal etc., All of these need inference and observations skills. Character sketches are a simple way to enable students to develop these skills. Definitely more interesting than making inferences from dry reports.

  • Making the reader more perceptive to new angles:

Characters in a story also help bring several important aspects of the story and in way help to summarise the plot. Looking at a story from a character’s perspective, could open up new angles.

  • Enhanced comprehension:

To understand a story by analysing a chosen character helps in enhancing comprehension skills.

Challenges that the young executives face while working on character sketches:

The helpless feeling of not knowing what to write.

This is a common feeling that even the best of writers face. We talked about how there is nothing to feel bad about this feeling and how we could navigate such situations.

Helpful tips that emerged out of the discussions

  • One of the young executives shared how making random lists of various thoughts helps her in times such as these.

  • We also spoke about making use of the ‘5W’ questions and ‘How’ to tide over such situations.

Taking the first step, that is making an effort to writing something is what counts most in the one’s journey of mastering the skill of written communication.


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