Workshop > Indirect Characterization
Sep 29

Indirect Characterization

There are five different methods of indirect characterization which are revealed through a character's: STEAL. These can reveal important insights into the character.
  • Speech- What does the character say? How does the character speak?
  • Thoughts- What is revealed through the character’s private thoughts and feelings?
  • Effect on others- How do other characters feel or behave in reaction to the character?
  • Actions- What does the character do? How does the character behave?
  • Looks- What does the character look like? How does the character dress?

Examples of Indirect Characterization:

"We'd reached the crest of the hill. Down the other side I could see a valley, just as my mother had said, and the lights of a farmhouse glowing through the rain. But that was half a mile away. We'd never make it. The bull-man grunted, pawing the ground. He kept eyeing my mother, who was now retreating downhill back toward the road, trying to lead the monster away from Grover.

"Run, Percy!" she told me. "I can't go any farther. Run!"

But I just stood there, frozen in fear, as the monster charged her. She tried to sidestep, as she'd told me to do, but the monster had learned his lesson. His hand shot out and grabbed her by the neck as she tried to get away. He lifted her as she struggled, kicking and pummeling the air.


She caught my eyes, managed to choke out one last word: "Go!" (Riordan, p.52-53).

This example paints a very vivid picture of the relationship between Percy and his mother. While the scene is short, and full of action, it also reveals quite a bit of characterization. The main focus of this indirect characterization is the mother character.

Respond to this XP, by making a list of the character traits that Percy's mother posseses, that you can infer from this scene. List them outright--essentially turning this indirect characterization into a direct characterization. Next to each of your traits, include a quote or a description from this scene that led you to include that specific trait.

Once you've listed at least 5 traits, and the reasons why you think the character posseses them, write a short explanation for why you think the author revealed these traits through indirect characterization. What would have been lost if those traits were described directly? How would the story be different? What worked about this style of description?

Post your list, and explanations, as a response to this XP.