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09.07.2015 19:29    Comments: 0    Categories: Writing Characters      Tags: character development  character-driven  characterisation  

A well-developed character is one that has been thoroughly characterised, with many traits shown in the narrative. The better the audience knows the character, the better the character development. Thorough characterisation makes characters well-rounded and complex. This allows for a sense of realism. As an example, according to F.R. Leavis, Leo Tolstoy was the creator of some of the most complex and psychologically believable characters in fiction. In contrast, an underdeveloped character is considered flat or stereotypical.

 

Character development is very important in character-driven literature, where stories focus not on events, but on individual personalities. Classic examples include War and Peace or David Copperfield. In a tragedy, the central character generally remains fixed with whatever character flaw (hamartia) seals his fate; in a comedy the central characters typically undergo some kind of epiphany (sudden realization) whereupon they adjust their erratic beliefs and practices, and avert a tragic fate. Historically, stories and plays focusing on characters became common as part of the 19th century Romantic movement, and character-driven literature rapidly supplanted more plot-driven literature that typically utilizes easily identifiable archetypes rather than proper character development.

 

Direct vs. indirect characterisation

There are two ways an author can convey information about a character:

 

Direct or explicit characterisation:
The author literally tells the audience what a character is like. This may be done via the narrator, another character or by the character him- or herself.

 

Indirect or implicit characterisation:
The audience must deduce for themselves what the character is like through the character’s thoughts, actions, speech (choice of words, way of talking), looks and interaction with other characters, including other characters’ reactions to that particular person.

 


[Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Characterization ]

 
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