What follows is the presentation for the Character & Characterization mini-workshop held on June 18, 2019.
Character & Characterization
Character is something necessary for every story. Where is the need for plot if you have no characters to tell your story. Without character your plot and story are but an empty boat in the middle of a vast ocean. Types of character: There are standard types of character that we will discuss: protagonist, antagonist, static, dynamic, and round. However, there are additional types of character not always covered on your basic lists: confidante, stock, mentor, narrator, and tertiary.
Let’s go through the types and their key components.
* Protagonist - the good guy. This is usually your main character(s), and is responsible for moving the story along.
* Antagonist - the bad guy. Sometimes the main character.
* Static - does not change throughout the story.
* Dynamic/Developing - undergoes significant change through the story. Change is brought about by the events of the story and can be seen in their outlook or personality.
* Flat - supporting character. Does not change during the course of the story.
* Confidante - someone the MC confides in. This character may or may not be human. (from literarydevices.net)
* Round - well developed and complex. These characters are more realistic and demonstrate more depth. (from literarydevics.net)
Writerscookbook.com (www.writerscookbook.com) gives 9 types of character for writers to consider:
* Deuteragonist - sidekick.
* Love Interest
* Mentor - provides guidance to MC throughout the course of the story.
* Secondary character
* Tertiary - along for the ride. Not significant to the plot or story.
**Remember, characters can be round and dynamic but these two traits are not exclusive to one another and they shouldn’t be confused as being the same.**
One may think that character and characterization go hand-in-hand, but that isn’t always the case. Flat and Tertiary characters don’t require detailed building because they’re not central to the story. Consider the butler in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily. He is a background character. We know what color he wears and we know his duties but there’s nothing else to know about him beyond those facts because Faulkner never intended for him to be more than a stock character. He is a mere player in the background of Emily’s world.
So what is characterization? Literarydevices.net defines it as, “the initial stage in which the writer introduces the character with noticeable emergence. After introducing the character, the writer often talks about his behavior; then, as the story progresses, the thought-processes of the character” (https://literarydevices.net). So, essentially, what characterization is, is the building of your character. There are two ways to do this; directly or indirectly.
Direct characterization, sometimes referred to as explicit, is a direct approach towards building character. This is a tool used for telling readers who the MC is either through a narrator, another character, or even the main characters themselves.
Indirect characterization, sometimes referred to as implicit, is more subtle and nuanced. This is the way a writer shows their reader who the MC is and what events they’re going through. This can be found in many of your character-driven narratives.
ReadWriteThink provides a wonderful tool for constructing Indirect characterization, the STEAL method:
S-peech: What does the character say? How do they speak?
T-houghts: What is revealed through their thoughts and feelings?
E-ffect on others: how do they effect others with their actions, reactions, and words?
A-ctions: What does the character do? How do they behave?
L-ook: What does the character look like? How do they dress?
In addition to the STEAL resource, Lexiconic.net provides writers with a list of 10 direct (or indirect) ways in which a character can be revealed:
1. Psychological description
2. Physical description
3. Probing thoughts
4. What they say
5. How they say it
6. What they do
7. What others say about them
8. Their environment
9. Their reaction to others
10. Their reaction to themselves
Open for questions: