On Characterization

Status: Studying for my language exam while being faintly amused that Hunger knew that I would be along shortly. I must be really boring and easy to predict.

Dear Reader,

Characterization is something that a lot of writers struggle with. I myself (yes, me, I do hope you’re not surprised) suffer trying to understand my characters, because it is much like pulling cotton wool out of the clouds. When I write, it takes time to flesh out my characters, and build them up from the cardboard cut out they normally are.

Character is what defines us – a set of determined traits that form the basis of our actions, motivations and beliefs. These traits are prone to change – thus showing that we able to develop as a person, and in fiction, this is called character development.

Character development comes in many forms, from that of achieving something, growing from strength to strength, learning a valuable life lesson, going through a major change in life… so on, so forth. However, character development is most clearly seen by how a character changes, and matures (or becomes more imbecilic, whatever floats your boat). This means that on a deeper part of a character’s psyche, they learn something, internalize it and change. This usually results from an event, or from the gradual passage of time within the book.

Books, I would hazard and go out on a limb to say, are divided into books which are plot based, and then books that are character based. Plot based books are those that are prone to being bad because the plot is unable to mask the insipidity of character development, while character based books are those that are prone to being boring because there is simply a lack of interesting events going on. These are the extreme ends, with the predictably bad results.

Most books however, straddle both. They start off a point where a character experiences a change, and leaves the main narrative to focus on how the character, and the people surrounding him/her/zir, deal with it. This leaves for interesting detail, while also having the space for character development. The change that inspires the change in the character is present – and yet the change is of sufficient compellment to keep readers interested. Characters react, internalize and grow from the event.

How they react to these events and change, that is the duty of an author to chart. And that, my dear reader, is character development in a very tight nutshell.

I do apologize for being so bereft and short – but I do have a major exam to study for. Goodbye.

Regards,
Jas

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One response to “On Characterization

  • Hunger

    I knew that you’d be along shortly. And I also knew that you’d give better advice than me.

    But yes, thanks for the amazing amazingness that this post is. *nods head in respect*

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