Start writing fiction
Start writing fiction

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Start writing fiction

1.4 Portraying a character

Activity 7

Click on 'Portraying a character' below to read ‘Portraying a character’, which outlines the main methods of revealing character in fiction.

Portraying a character [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Activity 8

Imagine a new character and build a strong sense of the person by using the checklist shown previously. Here it is again:

  • Physical/biological: age, height, size, state of health, assets, flaws, sexuality, gait, voice.
  • Pyschological: intelligence, temperament, happiness/unhappiness, attitudes, self-knowledge, unconscious aspects.
  • Interpersonal/cultural: family, friends, colleagues, birthplace, education, hobbies, beliefs, values, lifestyle.
  • Personal history: major events in the life, including the best and the most traumatic.

Now present your new character in the four different ways outlined in Activity 7. Here they are again:

  • Make a summary of what the character is like.
  • Show him or her through appearance.
  • Show him or her through a habitual or repeated action.
  • Finally, show him or her through a speech in a scene.

Discussion

Feedback

Review your four ‘takes’ on this character. Although you may have shown different aspects of your character, check that there are no inconsistencies. For example, Flaubert's depictions of Madame Bovary all show her as sensual, whatever the means of portrayal.

Activity 9

Make a character desire something, and make the desire his or her driving force. Write a scene or a summary that creates reasons why s/he can never have what s/he wants. (‘Three hours between planes’ is a good example of this.)

Discussion

Feedback

Check that you have made the object of desire desirable in our eyes – make us see from the character's perspective.

A174_1

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?
Free Courses

OpenLearn has over 800 free courses across all our subjects designed by our academic experts. From 1 to 100 hours, introductory to advanced, you can start learning at any time and all for free.