Methods of Characterization – Literature

Characterization is a writer’s tool to develop characters in his or her story. In the 15th century, Aristotle defined characterization as speaking about the importance of plot over a character in Poetics. ‘’Tragedy is representation, not of men, but of action and life”. What Aristotle meant by “tragedy” is that it is not centered on the thoughts, dreams, and histories of the characters. The story is centered on what happens to the plot, so the author engages characterization to share details about those thoughts, dreams, and histories, without floating away from the action.

There are 2 different approaches to characterization

  1. Direct Characterisation
  • the writer tells us what he or she wants us to know about the character.
  1. Indirect Characterisation
  • the writer wants us to show things about the character to help us understand the character’s personality and effect on the other characters.

We are done with the two approaches to characterization. Now let’s proceed to the five methods of characterization.

5 Methods of Characterisation

Use the mnemonic device of STEAL to always remember the five methods of characterization

Speech – it is described as what the character is saying in the story and how the

              character speak.

Thoughts – if the writer is wise and able to share every character’s thoughts, behavior

                  and feelings, then we can learn a lot of things about the characters


Effect on others toward the character-revelation of the character’s effect on other

                  people and does other characters behave or feel in reaction to the


Actions – it tells us what the character does and how he or she behaves.

Looks/Appearance – describes how the character looks and dresses.

Definitely, the characters we read and meet in our favorite books are just as complicated as the people we meet in our everyday lives. They are multi-sided. Sometimes they’re generous and nice. Other times, they are petty and jealous.

We will learn a lot of layers and unfold the greatest intrigue if the character created by the writer is strong. This is one of the most necessary elements of great novels and short stories, and it’s what makes some books enjoyable to read.

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Leana Jan Candoleta

Leana was an administrative officer in a dialysis center. She has extensive experiences with all administrative tasks, including scheduling, information and billing. Having held positions in the medical and business field, leana is able to tailor her skills to meet the needs of various patients and clients. she has increased her efficiency in her skills and roles and became an effective employee in her company. As a senior Administrative Officer, she has helped the company earn millions when it comes to medical transactions. Leana graduated from West Visayas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Development Communication. After she graduated, she worked as an English Tutor in a Foreign School as her first job. She also served the community for a year and three months wherein she gained more experiences in her career record. She was also a holder of Civil Service License. During her college years, Leana was a member of Gawad Kalinga and Philippine League of Development Communication. After 5 years of working, she decided to shift to another career which is teaching. She took up the course Teacher Certificate Program in Phinma-University of Iloilo. She balanced work, school, social life and a mother. She did this to create a bigger future for herself and for her family. Leana is also a member of a non-government association in Iloilo City wherein her passions and hobbies can be shown off to other group members. Leana is a very passionate and goal-achiever person. She will do anything to be on top and be the best among the rest to reach for her better future. She is now waiting for the Licensure Examination for Teachers and hoping that she will pass it.