Friday, June 19, 2009

Characterization Checklist

Yes, more information from Alan that was shamelessly taken from class notes. There is no indication of the source of these, so let me know if they sound familiar. Wherever they originated, they are all good questions to be asking yourself while writing.

  1. Look back over a scene or chapter that introduces one or more characters. How much time, if any, have you spent describing the new characters' character? Are you telling us about characteristics that will later show up in dialogue and action?
  2. How about character histories? How many of your characters' childhoods have you developed in detail? Can some of these life stories be cut?
  3. What information (technical details, characters' past histories, backgrounds on locations or families) do your readers need in order to understand your story? At what point in the story do they need to know it?
  4. How are you getting this information across to your readers? Have you given it to them all at once through a short author-to-reader lecture?
  5. If the exposition comes out through dialogue, is it through dialogue your characters would actually speak even if your readers didn't have to know the information? In other words, does the dialogue exist only to put the information across?
  6. If the exposition is through interior monologue, would your characters actually think these thoughts if your readers didn't have to know the information?

4 comments:

Natalie L. Sin said...

Excellent checklist. I like to explore characters in snippets : )

Helen said...

I agree, excellent checklist. Sometimes writers put in the info when the character is first introduced, then put it in again where it actually fits into the flow. Which is okay, as long as they remember to go back and remove it where it didn't fit.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Anton Gully said...

Timely post, Alan.

"How are you getting this information across to your readers? Have you given it to them all at once through a short author-to-reader lecture?"

That's exactly what I've been doing and it looks ridiculous.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Thanks, folks. I'm all for a concise checklist to keep me on track. Now if I can only get something down on paper to use this on...