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Hey, all! Today I want to talk to you about characterization. For those of us who need a quick reminder/definition: Characterization is how and what we learn about someone in a story that makes them feel/seem like a real person; details about a character in your story.

Everybody got it?

Need an example?

How do we know the main character’s best friend is in love with them? Because they run out of a date to help the main character, and other “above and beyond” type of things that a friend wouldn’t normally do.

A big part of characterization, I believe (but I’m sure most others would agree with me-if I could ask them-which I can’t-so we’ll just assume), is (and here’s the phrase you’re probably tired of hearing) showing not telling. Quick reminder: the “show don’t tell” advice is straight forward, show the readers something in the story don’t tell the readers about something that we didn’t see.
For instance, if you end a chapter/scene with the main character going off to break into the bio-tech lab, don’t start the next chapter/scene after the break in and tell us it went well, show us the break in.

The same thing goes for characters in your story. Don’t have a character tell us another character is a jerk, show us that character is a jerk by their actions and interactions with the other characters. And here’s the thing, if you are having a character tell us another character is a jerk, then it says more about the character telling us about the other character than it does about the character they’re telling us about.

Sometimes coming up with what your character is like is tough (you can’t characterize your character to yourself). You just can’t figure out how your character would react in a scene. In these cases it can be a good thing to take them out of the story for moment and think about them doing something completely mundane. In this example let’s say their eating lunch. What do they eat for lunch? Are they are a fast food type of person? If they are, are they not concerned with their weight/health? Or are they a salad type of person? What kind of salad? Do they go out to a restaurant to eat lunch or have it delivered to where they work? Do they like to eat with people, or do they eat alone in their car to have a few minutes to wallow?

As you can see, when it comes to characterization lunch can be so much more than just something that happens. Lunch can be another way to show us what your character is like.

I hope this helps.

Until next time: Be yourself, be well. Write yourself, write well.

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