Monday, March 7, 2011

Characterization

The definition of characterization from my old pal Webster: the way in which the writer portrays the characters in a book, play, or movie.

Writers know there is a lot more to it. There's indirect characterization:
The wind was so strong that Robyn's highlighted blond hair whipped around  hindering her vision. The sentence is not about the highlighted hair color of Robyn :) but you still learn that her hair is highlighted. And blond. :) (showing)

Direct characterization: Robyn was patient throughout the windstorm. I told what the character is like.  (telling)

Now I know these two sentences are terrible. (Robyn has  co-op today and her brain isn't working, either.)


Showing is so much better. Just compare the two sentences. But. Direct characterization is definitely needed in our novels. The indirect sentences are longer and more interesting to read, engaging us far more that direct. The direct  leaves less imagination to you the reader while still giving you the same information.


It is up to us to decide when to use direct characterization. Using direct characterization lowers our word count and moves the story forward. We may need to use it when we want to reveal something about a character without taking away from the action of a scene.


Anything on characterization I have left out? Tell it to me. I wanna know. <3

25 comments:

  1. Good heavens. Just when you think you can't possibly learn more about writing, you read a post like this. Easy to understand and a good definition. I don't have co-op today but my brain is also fried, so I can't think of anything else to add about characterisation.

    Sending BIG hugs to my friend Christopher (and you too!)
    Judy (South Africa)

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  2. More fodder to chew on, Thanks Robyn. I shall try to remember this. I would have liked a few more examples as I ponder this through, but I think I got it.

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  3. Good post, Robyn... easier said than done for me...

    Have a great day!

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  4. Most excellent post, (she says pulling her mouse brown hair out of her sleepy eyes.)

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  5. Great post Robyn. It will help as I go about some revisions today.

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  6. Something important to chew on today! Thanks Robyn;)

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  7. Brandilyn Collins has an excellent post on characterization - called Getting into Character. highly recommended.

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  8. You will surely laugh when I tell you I've never thought of explaining or introducing characters in this way. Direct or indirect just happened as I wrote.

    Knowing how to add something to strengthen the character or the story is a big help.

    Thank you.

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  9. Great points, Robyn. I am a huge fan of showing and not telling.

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  10. What I want to know is if Robyn's brain kicked into gear before or after co-op? And how is the amazing Robyn feeling, anyway? I'm thinking nibbling some chocolate while wearing her shades will have her right as rain before she knows it!
    Hugs and blessings,
    Karen

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  11. I love this post, it is a good one. Thanks for sharing it. You made that so easy to understand.

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  12. Great post here. I like the difference in the information. It is so hard between showing and telling and not doing to much of either. Balance...that is what we must find. Thank you!

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  13. It takes practice knowing which route to go depending on what you're trying to achieve. Showing does take a few more words, but usually works great for me.

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  14. I struggle with show vs tell. I like the difference as you told.

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  15. Sorry forgot to add.

    Thanks for coming by my blog to check out Harlequin Intrigue Author Joanna Wayne's interview and take part in the book giveaway, please note that:

    You do have to drop in on Joanna Wayne Facebook Page and post on her wall for this giveaway!

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  16. Thanks Robyn! I always learn so much from you :) I'll remember this post often when I'm plowing away through my first novel attempt.

    How are you? Hope you're well. I'm thinking of you. Hugs, my friend.

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  17. Good distinction Robyn! I think just being aware that we have choices between showing and telling and knowing the difference goes a long way. Great examples. They are simple and easy to understand!!

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  18. This is something I'll definitely have to keep in mind. Very useful information. I just wanted to stop by to say that I appreciate your thoughtful words while I was away,and I appreciate your prayers very much. I hope you and your family are doing well also. I am happy to say that I am back from a much needed break, but am so glad to be able to reconnect with friends. :)

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  19. This is a great topic and one we writers should always be thinking about. It's so hard to slip into telling... I really like the examples of the show vs. tell. I think this is something I need to see over and over again! :) Thanks!

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  20. Very nice tip, thanks for sharing:)

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  21. Hi good to be here at this informative blog,
    keep inform, with all good wishes
    your new pal
    I just joined in
    Best

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  22. Great pointers thanks Robyn :O)

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