Characterization (Part 2)
  • [Note: I’ve updated this post and changed the dialogue example]

    In Part 1 of this post, I mentioned that a fictional character is shaped by his or her words and actions, and that for this reason, plot and dialogue are the sine-qua-non of character development. The following, then, taken from an actual book (written in first person), is an example of how this is so:

    I drove us to my trailer in Metairie.

    “This is where you live?” she said.

    “Shut up.”

    That’s how it actually appears in the novel. Now read it this way:

    I drove us to my trailer in Metairie.

    “This is where you live?” she said.


    It’s only a one-word difference, but note how much that one word changes your view of the character.

    July 25th, 2011 | journalpulp | 2 Comments | Tags: , ,

About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning at the core of my life.

2 Responses and Counting...

  • Lynn Kelley 07.25.2011

    Both posts on characterization are excellent. I love the way you changed the dialogue. Quite a contrast, and your point is well taken. Hmm, which movie? I have no idea, but I knew it wasn’t Top Gun!

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