What Do You Need to Know About Characters?
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What Do You Need to Know About Characters?. Feature Menu. Characters Protagonist and Antagonist Subordinate Characters Characters and Conflict Character Motivation Characterization Direct Characterization Indirect Characterization Your Turn. Characters.

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What Do You Need to Know About Characters?

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What do you need to know about characters

What Do You Need to Know About Characters?

Feature Menu

  • Characters

    • Protagonist and Antagonist

    • Subordinate Characters

  • Characters and Conflict

  • Character Motivation

  • Characterization

  • Direct Characterization

  • Indirect Characterization

  • Your Turn


What do you need to know about characters

Characters

Characters are the people we meet in a story, poem, or play. We learn about them through their traits and their interactions with others.


What do you need to know about characters

romantic

shy

competitive

moody

Characters

Characters’ traits are the qualities that make up their personalities.

You get to know characters by observing their traits.


Characters

Characters

Interactions among characters show how they relate to each other and affect one another.

As Brandon walked down the hall, he saw Melanie struggling with her books. He stopped for a second, as if he might help, then laughed loudly and continued on his way.

As Brandon walked down the hall, he saw Melanie struggling with her books. He stopped for a second, as if he might help, then laughed loudly and continued on his way.

That’s not a very positive interaction. He doesn’t act like a caring person would act.

Paying attention to characters’ interactions helps you make judgments about their personality traits.

[End of Section]


Characters protagonist and antagonist

CharactersProtagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist in a story is the main character, the one you sometimes want to root for.

An antagonist is a character who tries to keep the protagonist from succeeding.


Characters protagonist and antagonist1

CharactersProtagonist and Antagonist

Quick Check

Who is the protagonist?

Daniel sat at the end of the bench, hanging his head. He couldn’t believe he’d had to sit through another game without playing. He thought of all the time he’d spent practicing and looked up at his little brother in the stands, waiting patiently for him to get into the game. Everyone knew he was too good to be riding the bench.

Coach Adams smirked at Daniel’s disappointment and chuckled to himself.

Who is the antagonist?

[End of Section]


Characters subordinate characters

CharactersSubordinate Characters

Many stories also have subordinate, or minor, characters to help move the story.

friend

neighbor

relative

teacher

Subordinate characters provide depth and complications that move the plot forward.


Characters subordinate characters1

CharactersSubordinate Characters

Subordinate characters are sometimes round, flat, or static.

round

flat

static

Their role is to advance the plot or to help us better understand the main character.


Characters subordinate characters2

CharactersSubordinate Characters

Round characters have many different traits.

stylish

studious

mischievous

shy

Like real people, they have more than one side to their personalities.


Characters subordinate characters3

CharactersSubordinate Characters

Flat characters have just one or two traits.

grumpy

grouchy

They can be described in a word or two.


Characters subordinate characters4

CharactersSubordinate Characters

Static characters don’t change during the course of the story.

angry

still angry

They help us better understand the main character.


What do you need to know about characters

CharacterSubordinate Characters

Quick Check

Which boy is the best example of a flat character? Why?

Max wished he could cheer up Daniel. There was nothing Max hated more than a sour mood. He could turn anything into a joke, and usually did.

Daniel, on the other hand, was more complicated than that. Sure, he wanted to laugh at his problems, but he felt torn between goofing around with his friends and helping his family now that his father was ill.Still, he knew Max meant well and didn’t want to let his friend down.

[End of Section]


What do you need to know about characters

Characters and Conflict

A conflict is a struggle.

Two characters sometimes oppose each other.

Sometimes a character struggles against a whole group.


What do you need to know about characters

Characters and Conflict

A conflict can exist inside a character.

A character might struggle with an internal conflict to overcome fear or to gain confidence.

A character may also struggle with an external conflict or outside force.


What do you need to know about characters

Characters and Conflict

Quick Check

What conflict does Daniel encounter? Is it an internal or external conflict?

When the team won the championship, the crowd went wild. It was Daniel who cheered the loudest and longest for his old teammates. He had wanted so badly to get on the court to impress his brother, but Joe’s grin told him that he was happy to have some company up in the stands.

Daniel even offered Coach Adams a thumbs-up, but the coach simply sneered at his former player, just like he always had. Daniel shrugged.

[End of Section]


Character motivation

A character’s motivation is the reason he or she behaves in a certain way.

others’ actions

feelings

experiences

Character Motivation

Many things—fears, needs, or conflicts—may contribute to a character’s motivation.

feelings


Character motivation1

Character Motivation

Quick Check

What are Coach Adams’s motivations for keeping Daniel on the bench?

Coach Adams looked down the bench at Daniel and couldn’t help but laugh at how depressed his player looked. He knew he shouldn’t be so mean, but Daniel was just too perfect; Coach felt like he was doing him a favor by teaching him that he couldn’t win at everything.

Besides, when he was Daniel’s age, he’d spent plenty of time on the bench—thanks to Daniel’s father, who’d stolen his starting position.

Payback felt good.

[End of Section]


Characterization

Characterization

Characterization is how an author reveals characters’ personalities and brings them to life.


Characterization direct characterization

CharacterizationDirect Characterization

When writers usedirect characterization, they tell us directly what characters are like or what their motives are.

She was one of those people who could set you at ease as soon as she entered the room.

She was warm-hearted, genuine and kind.

She was one of those people who could set you at ease as soon as she entered the room.

She was warm-hearted, genuine, and kind.


Characterization indirect characterization

CharacterizationIndirect Characterization

When writers use indirect characterization, they showthe characters’ traits, allowing the reader to make inferences based on observations.

As she walked down the hall, her classmates scurried out of her path.

The corners of her mouth turned down, and her eyes were slits. She slammed shut each open locker door she passed.

As she walked down the hall, her classmates scurried out of her path.

The corners of her mouth turned down and her eyes were slits. She slammed shut each open locker door she passed.


Characterization indirect characterization1

dialogue

appearance

private thoughts

others’ reactions

actions

CharacterizationIndirect Characterization

Writers showus characters by revealing


Characterization indirect characterization2

CharacterizationIndirect Characterization

Dialoguecan reveal a lot about characters and their relationships with each other. Pay attention to

  • what characters say and don’t say, and

  • how characters respond to each other.


Characterization indirect characterization3

CharacterizationIndirect Characterization

Pay attention to language the writer uses to describe a character’s appearance, including looks, clothes, and behavior.

Her icy eyes were spaced narrowly, just above her sharp nose. They were framed by thin brows whose arch formed severe peaks at her forehead. Two tight, pinched lips and a sharp V of a chin finished off her face.

Her icy eyes were spaced narrowly, just above her sharp nose. They were framed by thin brows whose arch formed severe peaks at her forehead. Two tight, pinched lips and a sharp V of a chin finished off her face.

  • Does the description give you a positive or negative impression of the character?

  • Which words contribute to this impression?


Characterization indirect characterization4

CharacterizationIndirect Characterization

Writers can take us into a character’s mind to reveal the private thoughts and personality traits of that character.

As you read, pay close attention to any descriptions of a character’s thoughts and feelings.


Characterization indirect characterization5

CharacterizationIndirect Characterization

Watch for how other characters react to a character. Pay attention to

  • how others feel about the character, and

  • what others say about the character.


Characterization indirect characterization6

CharacterizationIndirect Characterization

How characters behave, including how they treat each other, often reveals a lot about them.

Observe characters’ actions to determine

  • what their personalities are like,

  • what motivates them, and

  • how they deal with conflict.


Characterization indirect characterization7

CharacterizationIndirect Characterization

Quick Check

How does the author show the character’s traits?

“Just keep driving and no one gets hurt,” he growled.

He wore head-to-toe black, from his heavy leather boots to the wool ski mask that obscured his face. Beads of sweat dampened his mask, and the white sack he clutched so tightly was soaked through with red dye.

His breathing was rapid and anxious, and his eyes darted furiously from the rearview mirror to the passenger’s side window.

Based on this excerpt, how would you characterize this man?

[End of Section]


Analyze character

Analyze Character

YourTurn

Are you a good judge of character?

Analyze two characters from a movie, TV show, or story. First, describe the character types. Then, write a brief sketch of each character. Share your sketches with a partner.

[End of Section]


The end

The End


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