Characterization is what serves as the undercurrent of every compelling book that you’ve read. This simple structural addition allows you to truly step into the mind and setting of your favorite character, understanding them in an entirely new way. This makes learning the nuances and use of characterization necessary for new writers to find their footing and win their audience with immersive and believable worlds. In this article, we cover the types of characterization available to use, and offer tips for implementing them throughout your writing ⸺ no matter what genre you write for!
What is characterization?
Characterization comes in two main forms in writing: direct and indirect characterization. Both types add different levels of complexities to your character, and can aid the reader in the immersion process of your book. Below is a brief explanation of both types of characterization, as well as examples of each.
Direct characterization is where the author uses their omniscient point of understanding to tell the reader different things about the character in question. Examples of direct characterization include:
- Sarah was a well-read girl who enjoyed rainy days and thunderstorms.
- Michael was nearly always aggressive, but with Clara he felt calm at last.
- Juliet was a stage star from her youth.
Indirect characterization uses more subtle nuances throughout the book that helps the reader to imply different components of the character’s personality over the course of the book. Authors skillfully navigate this process by using careful dialogue and setting to put the characters in situations that allow their true selves to shine through.
- Lance stood strong, but inside he was crumbling – just as he always had felt in his youth.
- “No, don’t!” Laura commanded, taking ownership of the situation. “I can do this.”
- August sighed. She watched the rain roll down the window, completely heartbroken and hopeless. She felt that same dull depression creeping in, and didn’t know if she would succeed in suppressing it this time.
Tips for using characterization in your writing
Characterization is a powerful tool, which can be enhanced by proper utilization and planning throughout your writing. No matter what type of book you are writing or the piece you are working on, characterization can benefit your writing and add the depth that you’re looking for. Below are a few tips you can use to get started in using characterization in your writing.
Plan your characters ahead of time
Defining who your characters are is a vital part of writing planning, and should be done before you begin. This can help to guide the progression of your book, and ensure that there is cohesion in your character construction throughout.
Determine your setting
Creating settings that work well with your timeline can help you to create instances where characterization can shine through. Your characters will navigate these situations, and you can determine exactly what they’ll feel, say, and do at every point – letting the reader know little by little who your characters are and what motivates them.
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