#18 Characterization – An Introduction to Writing Character

by | Jul 6, 2020 | Writers Write

What is Characterization?

Characterization is the literary device authors use to artistically represent people. Additionally, it is the way authors create characters, which makes them believable.


The Importance of Characterization

Why does character matter? A story has events that take place. This is known as the plot. These events take place in space and time. This is known as the setting. So what is missing? People. Events devoid of people are not as compelling as events happening to someone. Therefore, character is important because it makes a story compelling. ?We are relational beings because we relate to other people. So story is about people.

Therefore, good characterization gives readers a strong sense the character and brings them alive on the page. Furthermore, It does so in a way that makes them feel real. Think about examples from your own life. The stories we tell are about us or someone else. Very rarely do we tell stories about no one. Create a vivid image of the character in the mind of your reader. Also, ensure the character evokes an emotional response.


Two Methods of Characterization

Direct Method

The first method for portraying a character is the direct or explicit method. Authors tell the reader what the character is like.


Sarah was a shy girl.

The author uses character traits to describe the character. Nothing is left to the reader?s imagination.


Indirect Method

In writing, they often say show don?t tell. The previous method tells us about a character. Alternatively, the indirect or implicit method shows the character through clues in the text. Ultimately, the aim is for readers to create their own impression of the character by using evidence in the text. This method is preferred because it enlists active participation from the reader.


Tara wore only the most expensive clothing. This was despite knowing she would work in the garden.

Instead of the author saying ?Tara is insecure?, the author leaves clues. One clue is the way Tara dresses. The reader asks: ?why would she do that?? Then begins putting together a picture of Tara. This is based on the reader’s life experiences. A insecure person might sympathize with Tara. On the contrary, a practical person may think that Tara is impractical and therefore shallow.


The Big Idea: Characterization

In summary, each method has its merits because there is a time and place to use each. The wise author masters both techniques. Then use the methods to create a clear picture of the character in the reader’s mind. The more complex and three dimensional, the better. In the coming weeks, we will be doing a deep dive into character. By the end of it, you will be crafting the most compelling characters of your career.


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Happy reading, Kryptic Fans!