Direct and Indirect Characterization

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My appearance and body language
Tells you I am one mean person.
That is characterization.
E.Q. What does
STEAL stand for, and
how do I use it in
characterization?
What is Character?
A person or animal who takes part in
the action of the story, play or other
literary work.
What/Who is the Protagonist?
The protagonist is the major character of
the work, action revolves around them.
They are the one with the major conflict to
resolve.
What/Who is the Antagonist?
The antagonist works against the protagonist.
It can either be another character or thing.
Big Picture vs. In the Moment
Characterizations mostly
build an overall picture of a
character
Don’t be tricked…


Example: Anger in one
scene does not necessarily
make that character an
angry person
Look for the big picture of a
character
Two Types of
Characterization
2
Direct
Indirect
What is Direct Characterization?
Direct characterization TELLS the reader
what the character is like

The author simply TELLS the reader what the
character’s traits are
“They were the laziest couple
on the block. Most of their
days were spent sitting on the
couch, watching television
and eating themselves into
oblivion.”
Direct Characterization
The writer simply
tells us what the
character is like
“Billy was painfully shy. He
suffered from the
insecurities of his small size
and could not imagine
himself as someone people
would like.”
What is Indirect Characterization?
Indirect characterization SHOWS the reader
what the character is like


The author uses descriptive language to show what
the character’s traits are
More subtle than direct characterization, but usually
more powerful
“Ralph and Zelda sat like
zombies, staring at the
television. This was the 20th
hour they had been sitting on
the couch in the last 2 days,
doing nothing but eating and
gazing at the screen.”
What is STEAL?
S–T–E–A-L
We use the acronym STEAL to reveal
who a character is through indirect
characterization.
Be Careful!
Not ALL dialogue will tell us something about
the character
The dialogue must make a characteristic of the
character in question come to life very clearly


“He stole off to Teddy’s bathroom, but there was
nothing there” (Kipling 27).
“Rikki-tikki was too well bred to bite or scratch, but
as soon as Teddy was asleep, he went off for his
nightly walk around the house . . . (Kipling 27).
Speech – What a Character Says
“Hey Joey, want to come to the movies
with us tonight?” his friend Mike asked.
“No way,” he replied. “The movie’s
lame. I don’t feel like doing anything.
The popcorn will probably make me sick
anyway, the seats will be dirty, and you
can’t talk during the movie. It would
probably be a disaster.”
Thoughts – What a Character Thinks
“I can’t believe she
likes this dress. It’s
going to look
horrible on her.”
“I love it. It
would look
great on you.”
“Isn’t this
dress cute?”
Do their
thoughts
match their
actions? If
not, what does
it say about
their
character?
E
The ffects of the
Character’s
Actions on Others
“The gunman strode into the bar. Immediately, the place
seemed to shrink from itself. Everyone subconsciously
moved a step away from the door or subtly shifted their
chairs. Most looked away. The bartender continued to
polish the bar, but moving slowly away from the shooter
as he polished. Animated conversations stopped
instantly. No one breathed. The gunman stopped,
watched this happen, a tiny smile slowly appearing at the
corners of his mouth.”
A Character’s Actions
Scar had the hyenas start a stampede so that
Mufasa would be killed by the frightened
wildebeest. What do his actions say about him?
Character’s Looks (Appearance)
Author’s use a character’s look to help you
decide their true character.
What Does it Say?
The importance of characterization
lies in what the characterization
says about the character.
What does it tell us about the
character?
STEAL a Characterization of yourself!
On the back of your notes write the acronym STEAL
and answer the characterization on your own.
S – does what you say reflect who you are?
T – What do your thoughts say about you?
E – How do you effect others?
A – Do the things you do reflect who you are?
L – How do your clothes reflect who you are?
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