Using Descriptive Detail


Characterization refers to the process of describing the appearance, action, and thoughts of the persons discussed within a text. Characterization is an important part of description, because it causes readers to more fully understand the motivations of characters. Effective characterization works in harmony with setting and plot to make the reader connect on a more intimate level to a text. In order to create realistic characters, a writer should be certain to give each person within the text:

  1. a unique way of behaving
  2. a unique way of speaking
  3. a unique appearance
  4. a unique was of thinking

If this can be accomplished, the text will achieve a heightened sense of believability.

Techniques for Writing Characterization

No matter how insignificant a character might seem, it is important to provide insight a to their thoughts and feelings. Fully-developed characters are the basis for effective writing.

In order to complete a more thorough characterization, a writer might ask himself the following questions:

  1. When was the character born?
  2. Where was the character born?
  3. Who were the parents of this character?
  4. What was this character's family life like?
  5. How much education has the character experienced?
  6. How does the character speak? Move? Relate to others?
  7. What do others think about this character?
  8. What does this character think about himself?
  9. What does this character do for a living? For a hobby? In his free time?
  10. What did the character dream last night?
  11. What is the worst thing that ever happened to this character?
  12. What is the best thing that ever happened to this character?
  13. Who/what does this character love?
  14. Who/what does this character hate?
  15. What does the character want and why?

The more thoroughly the writer has researched the characters, the more realistically developed they will seem.

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