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techniques used by authors to bring characters to life

Dana Linde

on 21 September 2015

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Transcript of characterization


Physical Appearance
Characterization is the technique authors use to bring their characters to life for the reader.
characterization can be direct
or indirect
In Stephenie Meyer's book Twilight, the author gives details of Edward Cullen's appearance when Bella is seated next to him in biology class
Holden Caulfied describes himself as being nervous in JD Salinger's classic novel of teenage angst, The Catcher in the Rye. This internal monologue occurs as Holden's classmate Stradlater prepares for a date with Holden's old neighbor.
Harper Lee, in her award-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, is able to provide the reader with a great deal of information about Atticus Finch using his conversations with Jem and Scout.
In John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men, the reader is made aware of Lennie's childlike simplicity from observing an action as mundane as drinking water from a pool.
In William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, Golding illustrates Jack's descent into savagery when - after returning from a hunt- Jack considers how he will share with others the joy of having taken a life.
What others say
about the character

When Romeo sees Juliet at the Capulet party, his words allow the reader to infer that Juliet must be very beautiful.
How others interact with a character
This technique can be an extremely effective means to introduce a character as evidenced in the novel Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen. The way Mr. Darcy interacts with Mr. Wickham has the reader forming inferences about Mr. Wickham's true nature.

In direct characterization,
also called explicit characterization, the writer makes direct statements about a character's personality and tells what the character is like.
When using indirect characterization, also known as implicit characterization,
the audience must induce for themselves what the character is like.
ROMEO: O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet;
Act I, Scene V
"He sought, charitable in his happiness, to include them in the thing that had happened. His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink."
"During the whole class he never relaxed his stiff position on the edge of his chair, sitting as far from me as possible. I could see his hand on his left leg was clenched into a fist, tendons standing out under his pale skin. This, too, he never relaxed. He had the long sleeves of his white shirt pushed up to his elbows, and his forearm was suprisingly hard and muscular beneath his light skin. He wasn't nearly as slight as he'd looked next to his burly brother."
"I pulled the peak of my hunting cap around to the front all of a sudden, for a change. I was getting sort of nervous, all of a sudden. I'm quite a nervous guy.
"His huge companion dropped his blankets and flung himself down and drank from the surface of the green pool; drank with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse."
"Mr. Denny addressed them directly, and entreated permission to introduce his friend, Mr. Wickham.....The introduction was followed upon his side by a happy readiness of conversation;...and the whole party were still standing and talking together very agreeably, when the sound of horses drew their notice, and Darcy and Bingley were seen riding down the street.....Mr. Darcy ...was beginning to determine not to fix his eyes on Elizabeth, when they were suddenly arrested by the sight of the stranger, and Elizabeth happening to see the countenance of both as they looked at each other, was all astonishment at the effect of the meeting. Both changed colour, one looked white, the other red."

Techniques of characterization include:
1. physical appearance
2. dialog
3. what others say
about a character
4. actions
5. personality
6. thoughts and feelings
7. how others interact
with a character
By entitling her screenplay, Mean Girls, Tina Fey makes it clear that the girls are mean.
Peter was bored with the TV program, but the remote control was inexplicably across the room, so he just watched it anyway. Jan'd be in soon, and she could fetch the remote control for him then.
Peter was very lazy, and would never shift himself more than was absolutely necessary.
Direct or Indirect? You choose.
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