Workshop > Direct Characterization
Sep 29

Direct Characterization

Direct characterization is when an author describes a character to you, directly. Rather than revealing things about a character through how they behave or how others interact with them, the author tells you some of the information out front, so you can begin to form an image of the character in your mind.

Examples of direct characterization:

"Mr. Brunner was this middle-aged guy in a motorized wheelchair. He had thinning hair and a scruffy beard and a frayed tweed jacket, which always smelled like coffee. You wouldn't think he'd be cool, but he told stories and jokes and let us play games in class. He also had this awesome collection of Roman armor and weapons, so he was the only teacher whose class didn't put me to sleep" (Riordan, 2.)

"Grover was an easy target. He was scrawny. He cried when he got frustrated. He must've been held back several grades, because he was the only sixth grader with acne and the start of a wispy beard on his chin. On top of all that, he was crippled. He had a note excusing him from PE for the rest of his life because he had some kind of muscular disease in his legs. He walked funny, like every step hurt him, but don't let that fool you. You should've seen him run when it was enchilada day in the cafeteria" (Riordan, 3).

"A word about my mother, before you meet her. Her name is Sally Jackson and she's the best person in the world, which just proves my theory that the best people have the rottenest luck" (Riordan, p. 29).

Notice how the author provided straightforward descriptions of the characters, to quickly bring you into the story. You may have heard the phrase "show, don't tell" when it comes to providing detail in your writing. This is one occasion when telling is more effective.


Respond to this XP with a short explanation of when/why you would use direct characterization in your story. It may be easier to think about when you wouldn't want to use direct characterization, as well. Post your explanation as a response to this XP, and take a moment to look at other people's responses as well. They may give you some other ideas as to when to use direct characterization, and when not to.