Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Revealing Characters (Characterization V)


Now that I'm getting back in the groove, I'd like to finish up the posts on revealing characters. In previous posts we discussed techniques 1 through 8, so lets talk about methods 9 though 12.

9. Conflict Reveals Character. When a person comes in conflict with anyone or anything, there is an emotional response to that conflict. In fiction, as in life, conflict is the forge that either strengthens character or brings out a persons weaknesses. Conflict is the single most important element of any work of fiction. A story without conflict is not a story.

10. Moments of Truth Reveal Character. A short story may have one moment of truth, whereas a novel will have many, including the protagonist's final showdown with his/her antagonist. How a character handles these moments of truth will tell your reader whether they are brave or cowardly, generous or stingy, or even compassionate or uncaring. Each moment of truth should bring out the character strength (or flaw) the writer is trying to show.

11. Confession reveals Character. Confession is a very important principle for revelation of character. A character's self-confession reveals intimate and direct aspects of the character's personality. While this technique is used in all 1st person narratives, it is not restricted to them. In a 3rd person narrative one character can confess to another.

12. Giving A Person A choice Reveals Character. Which alternative a character chooses when faced with a choice tells the reader a lot about him/her. This principle has been discussed in earlier methods, but is important enough to bear repeating.

In my next post, I'll finish this topic by discussing methods 13 through 16. By now it's evident that there are a number of ways to communicate your characters' traits and personalities to your reader.

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