Friday, October 19, 2012


by Beverly Townsend

Characterisation is the essential part of writing fiction. Building believable characters is one of the most skilful roles of an author. Whether they are from your past or present, friends or enemies they are the blocks that build a story.

“Without character there is no story. Characters are often the reason we read. As well as what the story is about, we want to know who the story is about....A good character always has some kind of internal conflict.” Julia Bell

·         Show them in action – showing them doing things (or not doing them!)

·         Give their exact words (direct speech), or their thoughts.

·         Show them in relationships with other people. How do they react to others? How do others react to them?

·         Describe physical appearance. You can’t put in every detail – choose details which are significant, and show individuality e.g. she was wearing a faded ten year old woolly jumper or he wore a Rolex watch. How much detail you give depends on the character and the pace of the story, and how much you want to leave to the imagination of the reader. Trust your readers to make assumptions.

·         Try to convey character through ‘pictures’, through things happening, rather than by explaining events ‘Show don’t tell.’

·         Remember conflict is quite basic to keeping your reader interested in your story – your characters have to be faced with problems that they find difficult to resolve.

Remember, the power to create and develop character is at the heart of all fictional writing.

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