Showing Not Telling: Characterization

Saturday, September 26

There are two ways to reveal a character and establish their personality; Directly and Indirectly. By far the most interesting, engaging way is Indirectly.


1. What the character says 
(“I don’t care much for fighting,” he said, backing away.)   
We can tell they dislike fighting.

2.The character’s physical appearance 
(He wiped his calloused hands on his worn burlap jacket.)
His hands tell us he lives a rough, poor life, which is also supported by the worn jacket.
3.Their feelings/thoughts 
(I wish summer would come back. This blasted cold freezes my old bones, he thought.)
Old and hates the cold (What do you know, it rhymes!)

4.What other characters think/say about the character 
(“So serious for someone so young,” she laughed.)
The character is young and serious.

5.How the character acts/reacts 
(Without another thought, he dove into the fray, snarling and biting.) 
Impulsive and reckless


1.The author directly comments on the character   
(The man was quiet and thoughtful, never seeking a fight.)
Um...he's quiet, thoughtful, and hates fighting. (Obvious...and kind of dull.)

3 comment(s):

Patrick Saturday, September 26, 2009  

Have you completed any book before this? Will be interesting if I can get a look at them.. =)

Reema B. Sunday, September 27, 2009  

Quoting Patrick, I would love to see some of your work (finished or unfinished)....or maybe we could start a forum or a shared blog where we writers can share our stuff?


You're more than welcome to come visit the Tea House at

story_weaver Sunday, September 27, 2009  

Usually as a rule I don't share any unfinished work due to people's inherent trait of telling me how I could improve it, even though I'm not at the revision stage yet. I don't even share my work with my family members. So if you're looking for a sample, some sort of proof that I as a writer actually know what I'm talking about, just look for little snippets I throw into my blog posts occaisionally (like this post or Diologue part 2.) Sorry this came out so long, perhaps the subject is deserving of a blog post...

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