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Characterisation. What does this term mean? . Characterisation. Characterisation is a word that describes how the author develops the personality of the story characters in a story.

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What does this term mean?


Characterisation is a word that describes how the author develops the personality of the story characters in a story.

In most stories the characters seem to steer the events in a story, for a good writer will make characters behave in different ways.

today we are going to learn
Today we are going to learn:
  • How character’s are described in stories.
  • How to create our own story characters.
  • How we can show a character’s personality in our own stories.
characterisation comes though what characters


Characterisation comes though what characters…

Characters become real life breathing people to our reader if we describe decisions they make, what they say and how they say it.

Sometimes a writer will reveal also the thoughts which run through a character’s mind.

top tips for creating characterisation
Top Tips for creating characterisation.

Tip One

Use an unusual name. Use description, alliteration, nicknames.


Biscuits was too large for the t-shirt he wore. Bits of him bulged out in unlikely places. But he didn’t seem to care. His round, red face grinned at me. “Hiyah!” said Biscuits, thrusting his pudgy hand our towards mine.

contrasting characters
Contrasting characters

Tip Two

A simple contrast is most effective. One character could be gentle, the other harsh.

How do the characters in the text below contrast?


The Grabber stood blocking their way. Tom hesitated, then turned on his heal and rushed back up the corridor screaming. Victor picked up the whalebone wand. He faced the Grabber and without saying a word gazed deep into its eyes.

using what characters do
Using what characters do.

Tip Three

We should be able to describe our character’s feelings by what they do. Take care not to write over simplified sentences such as He was sad. He was angry.


Grandma gently took the box from its secret place in the wardrobe. Immediately her eyes began to prickle. She opened the lid carefully and took in the familiar scent.

using what a character says
Using what a character says.

Tip Four

Dialogue. To show fear h-h-hesitate, um, er.

Show power, confidence. Begin sentences with imperative verbs (bossy verbs) Or I, I , I.

Use synonyms for said.


The old king stood up and gazed around the room. Everyone fell silent. “I will not wait,” he roared. “I must have porridge! And I want it now!”

your turn
Your turn.

Partner work.

  • Tip One – Create a name for your characters.
  • Tip Two - Think of a contrast between your character’s personalities.

Shy confident brave nervous bossy gentle

Angry sweet lonely happy thoughtful stupid

Clever dick troublemaker bullying kind sensitive

Now time to become actors. You need to assume the character’s name and personality.

the plot
The plot

You and your partner are cousins. You are in one of your homes, in the bedroom. The parents are downstairs.

There is a creak from the room above,the attic. It should be empty. What will your characters do?

Use Tip three – showing characterisation through what your characters DO.

Tip four – showing characterisation by what your characters SAY.

Use drama to act out the actions and dialogue of your characters.

the plot continued
The plot continued…

You are in the attic. It is very dusty, full of cobwebs, spiders etc. Its difficult to see as when you tried the light it flashed one and flickered out. You are surrounded by a mass of boxes and strange shaped objects draped in cloth.

You hear a noise coming from the back of the room…

can you remember the four top tips
Can you remember the four top tips?

Tip One Interesting names

Tip Two Contrasting personalities

Tip Three What your characters do

Tip Four What your characters say

what were our top tips for developing characters
What were our top tips for developing characters?

Tip OneInteresting names

Tip TwoContrasting personalities

Tip ThreeWhat your characters do

Tip FourWhat your characters say

today we are going to learn1
Today we are going to learn

Top Tip Number 5

  • How to develop characterisation through showing our character’s thoughts.
thinking about thoughts
Thinking about thoughts


Mrs Cooper pursed her lips. She had had enough of Brian’s behaviour for one day. That boy ought to be taught a lesson. He had overstepped the mark once too often. And bullying was not something that Mrs Cooper was going to tolerate.

This shows how you can write down what is in our character\'s mind.

We also can have a character’s thoughts written down as though in speech - a thought is our mind speaking to ourselves.

“Oh no, she’s in a strop… again!” Brian thought. “She’s really got

it in for me these days.”

In the following extract of text think about how or if, the writer has used any of the 5 top tips for characterisation.

Tip One Interesting names

Tip Two Contrasting personalities

Tip Three What your characters do

Tip Four What your characters say

Tip Five What our characters think.


“ You dirty, rotten thief!”

Billy Wilson was really winding me up. I don’t usually kick-off like that but he was slouching on the playground bench swinging MY prize conker back and forth, back and forth with a really irritating smirk on his face.

“Prove it Spud!” snarled Billy.

That’s me, Spud, A.K.A Edward King. Get it? Edward King – King Edward. What were my parents thinking?

“All conkers look the same, don’t they?” he droned on.

“No they don’t! That’s mine. I’d recognise it anywhere.”

My Nan had given me he string for it. She’d found it in Grandpa’s old shed. It was old and yellow and waxy and she said it would never, ever snap. It was wrapped around an old tobacco tin, and as she unwound it, she looked sad with a far away look in her eyes.

“There you go, Edward lad, That’s championship string, that is. Your dad used it for his conkers too.” She held the old tin to her nose before placing it gently back on the cobwebby shelf.


This all happened the day before the annual conker competition. Billy Wilson couldn’t be bothered to find his own conkers, so he’d stolen mine from my bag. He stole a lot of things, Billy did, and he couldn’t be bothered to do anything much most of the time, including having a wash. Mum says it’s not his fault and it’s not surprising, considering.

“Considering what?” I’ve asked a thousand times.

“None of your business,” she always says.

I couldn’t complain to the teachers about my stolen conker because we weren’t supposed to have them in school. Health and safety, or something. You can have an eye out with a conker, apparently!

did you spot any top tips
Did you spot any Top Tips?
  • NAMES: Who do you think were the main characters?
  • CONRAST: Were their personalities different?
  • ACTIONS: Did the author show the characters were different though their actions? (What they did)
  • SPEECH: Did the author show how the characters were different though what they said?
  • THOUGHTS: Do we know what Spud thinks about Billy?
drama time
Drama time
  • With a partner you are going to act out the story so far.
  • We are going to freeze the action at different parts of the action.
  • When I say freeze frame create a pose using your body, and a facial expression to show your feelings.
  • I want you to think about your character’s thoughts at that moment in the story.

Make a thought bubble to describe your character’s thoughts.

  • A flashback is where you go back in time to something that has happened in the past.
  • Think about the character Billy Wilson.
  • What in his life could have caused him to steal, become lazy and unwashed?
  • What might Spud’s mum have meant by, “It’s not surprising, considering.”

Improvise a scene from the past that hints at why

Billy has become the character he is now.

lesson 3
Lesson 3

We are going to:

  • use drama to explore character’s thoughts.
  • use our top tips for characterisation in our own writing.

Together we are going to write a recount, describing the day of one of the characters in the story we have been reading.

what were our top tips for developing characters1
What were our top tips for developing characters?

Tip OneInteresting names

Tip TwoContrasting personalities

Tip ThreeWhat your characters do

Tip FourWhat your characters say

Tip Five What your characters think.

who is billy
Who is Billy?

We have been looking at a short story with two boys, Billy and Spud as the main characters.

With your response partner talk for a few moments about the character of Billy.

Is it fair to say that Billy is evil? What do you think?

why did billy steal the conker
Why did Billy steal the conker?

Now the class are going to think about what must have been going through Billy’s mind before he stole the Conker.

Team 1.

List all the reasons why Billy might think it was ok to steal.

Team 2.

List all the reasons why Billy might think he should not steal the conker.

Let’s try out your ideas in a conscience alley!

Which team is most persuasive?

Are there any volunteers to be Billy?

let s pretend that we are billy
Let’s pretend that we are Billy.
  • We are going to write an entry into Billy’s diary.

Writing Targets

  • We need to describe an event in Billy’s life. (Action)(Dialogue)
  • Let the reader know how Billy feels about that day. (Thoughts)
  • Reveal something about Billy’s character to our reader. (Personality)
your task to develop characters in our writing
Your task To develop characters in our writing.

Now I’d like you to write another diary entry into Billy’s diary.

What will you need to include to develop characterisation?

DescribeBilly’s personality through:

  • What Billydoes
  • What Billysays
  • What Billythinks.
how do you feel about the character of billy now
How do you feel about the character of Billy now?
  • Do you feel sympathetic towards his situation?
  • What do you want to happen next to the character?
  • Can you remember the clue that the writer gave us, that suggested that there was more to Billy than Spud understood?
lesson 4 developing characters to use different ways of planning stories
Lesson 4 Developing CharactersTo use different ways of planning stories
  • Now its time to go back to our story.
  • What has happened so far?
  • What do you think is going to happen next?

Talk to your response partner.

How can we plot our story line in a different way?



excitement level


the story continues
The story continues…
  • Think about Spud’s emotions in the following events.
  • Following reading this segment of the story, we are going to then focus upon the character of Spud and describe the events from his point of view.
conkered continued
Conkered continued!

Anyway, there was nothing I could do. Billy is a big lad and I’m not. So, I decided to go home to look for another conker.

I went through the park and rummaged about underneath the conker trees. It didn’t take me long to find an absolute beauty.I rubbed it on my trousers and polished it up into a glossy swirl of browns and golds. This would be a winner and Billy Wilson wouldn’t be smirking tomorrow. I called at my Gran’s on the way home for some more string.

“Eh Edward lad,” she said, “you took the last of it yesterday. It’s all gone.” My heart sank. It was special string – string that my dad had won competitions with. It would never, ever snap.

“Never mind Gran,” I sighed. “My Mum’ll have some. See you later!”

Sure enough Mum had something that would do the trick – an old shoelace. First of all we followed the old recipe of soaking the conker in malt vinegar for exactly two minutes and baking in the oven at 250 degrees for one minute and thirty seconds. My dad drilled a hole though my conker with a sharp nail and threaded the shoelace though, making a big knot on the end so that it wouldn’t come loose. I was disappointed not to have the traditional family string but I was still determined to beat Billy Wilson.

The next morning at playtime, we all gathered behind the school kitchens. The smell of cabbage was belching out of the extractor fan making school dinners seem even less tempting that usual. Everyone was comparing conkers and eyeing up the opposition. Marcus Jones was look-out. His parents wouldn’t let him play conkers because they said competing with other children was bad for you. That must make the reset of us really bad because we were always challenging each other to dares and bets and daft races. Anyway, he’d have to stand on a box he’s so small.

“All clear!” whispered Marcus.

We paired up and tossed coins to see who would go first and then we were off.

hot seating
Hot seating

What is Spud thinking?

What questions would you ask Spud if your met him?

to describe character thoughts and feelings spud s diary
To describe Character thoughts and feelings.Spud’s Diary

Write a diary entry which reveals more of how Spud feelsabout the recent events.

Include: His reactions to what others sayto him, do to him. The events…

He felt sad that he could not get the string.

He found another conker

He thought about Billy’s reaction to the new conker

His family helped him prepare the conker.

He tried to get some more string.

to use drama to explore texts
To use drama to explore texts
  • Today we are going to read the ending of our story.
  • After we have completed reading the story we are going to think about acting out the story for someone else to watch.
conkered continued1
Conkered continued!

I held out my conker, steadying the string it wouldn’t move. Josh Walton drew back his conker, took aim and swung at mine. They crashed together and Josh was left with a piece of string with fragments of smashed conker clinging to the end.

“One-er!” I announced. A long way to go yet, though.

the competition continued until there were only two whole conkers left. We all stood there; the ground covered with bits of smashed conker and discarded pieces of string. Billy Wilson and I faced each other both clutching ‘six-ers’ because we’d smashed six other conkers. I went first. Drawing back the beautiful conker, I took aim and swung. Just at the last minute, Billy pulled his conker out of the way.

“Foul! Foul!” shouted Marcus. For someone who didn’t compete , he had a pretty good grasp of the rules.

“Spud gets another go for that,” he said.

Again….pull back…aim…swing…CRASH! Both conkers were still in one piece. Billy’s turn.

“Look out, Spud-face,” snarled Billy, “you’ve got no chance.” he looked at me straight in the eyes with that horrid smirk across his podgy face. He pulled grandpa’s special string slowly between his thumb and forefinger, challenging me to say it was mine. Placing one foot in front of the other and rocking to balance himself, Billy squared his shoulders, pulled back his conker, aimed and swung. The conker flew through the air across the playground, hitting the kitchen window with a crack. The string had snapped! Grandpa’s special, waxy, unsnappable string had snapped!

“Winner!” yelled Marcus, trying to hold my arm up like a champ.

“Conkered!” I shouted at Billy who had turned red and was clenching his fists.

“Detention!” thundered Mr. Poskitt, the head teacher, as he stormed around the corner. “Don’t you boys realise, you could have your eye out playing conkers!”

  • Now imagine that you are going to turn the story into a performance for others to view.
  • We need volunteers to play our main characters.
  • The rest of you are going to act as the directors of the play.
  • It is your job to direct the actor’s movements, speech.
what have you learned this week in literacy
What have you learned this week in literacy?
  • Talk to your response partner.
  • Can you remember the 5 top tips for characterisation?