Direct versus indirect characterisation (tip 51) 1

Direct characterisation is when you tell the reader what a person is like (e.g. she was a kind woman); indirect characterisation is when you show the reader a character’s actions and leave them to make their own judgements (e.g. she always bought treats for the neighbourhood kids). As a general rule, you should tell us objective facts about people (e.g. he was 32; he sometimes spat at cats) but show opinions such as ‘he was nasty’ through the character’s actions.

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Giving your characters context (tip 50) 2

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, ‘Begin with an individual and you find you have created a type; begin with a type and you find that you have created – nothing. And the difference between an individual and a type is whether we get to see the specificity of their being in the world – whether they have a unique context in which to come alive.

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