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1.4 Portraying a character

Activity 7

Click on ‘Portraying a character’ below and read the extract, 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.
  • Psychological: 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

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

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

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