What is the most important aspect of a story? A plot or the character? Although that’s a debate for another time, if you might have asked this question from Shakespeare, he would have said characterization.
How? Well, as it is a known fact how Shakespeare used to take the plot from his contemporary authors. Likewise, most of his write-ups are drawn from historical sources. Take Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra, and Romeo and Juliet, for example. Other times he used to borrow his plots from chronicles such as Macbeth, King Lear, and Hamlet, along with other unforgettable heroes.
He developed a drama so great that the readers don’t remember the original drama. All the reader knows, understands, and relates to is the agony of King Lear, the frightening passion of Macbeth, Dilemma of the Hamlet, or the jealousy of Othello.
From the above example, you might now have an idea of how important is the character to make the literary work timeless. All the action-driven, fast-moving stories or novels have powerful characters that readers can’t seem to ignore.
Henceforth, characterization is like the soul of fiction work. It’s the aspect that makes the readers interested, engaged, and hooked in the story. It is also the part that moves the story forward towards bringing closure.
Importance of Characterization:
- Characterization helps you set the mood of the story and takes the story forward. All the motivations, aspirations, and longing of characters are important in the story that defines how the plot moves.
- The characters provide the context of the story.
- They blow the soul into the story. Without them, the story simply doesn’t exist. Be it the animals’ characters, things, animated objects, or real human characters.
Here are some of the storytelling exercises that can help you develop your character impactful and strong.
Storytelling Exercise No.1: Do your research and study in-depth
Research is a major part of writing and developing your character resilience. Therefore, to prepare yourself, you must read widely. One exercise to help you get started thinking about characters you recently read. Now answer the following question in your mind or on a piece of paper, whichever you like. A book editing services agency suggested following questions:
- Was the character a well-rounded personality or a flat character? For example, throughout the story, did he evolve or change?
- Did the character go through any major change in the story?
- How did they achieve their milestones, and did they hurt anybody along the way?
- What was the mood of the character(s) throughout the story?
- What happened when they had to make a major decision in the story?
- Does the character have any vices? Were they oblivion to their weaknesses or aware of them?
- What were their strengths?
- What are the opposing forces in the story they had to face?
- Did they face internal conflict or the external?
- What were the consequences of the choices they made in the story?
- Did they find any support in the story? And how was the relationship with others?
- What lesson did you learn from this character?
Storytelling Exercise No.2: Make Your Character Passionate About Something
Characters are lifeless if they don’t have anything to be passionate about. Passion is the aspect that makes the characters interesting and thrilling. For example, if Macbeth hadn’t had any passion, he would murder King Duncan, who loved and held Macbeth dearly. His ever-growing hunger for power made him blind to his sin. This makes the story interesting and grappling.
Storytelling Exercise No.3: Let them Own the Truth
Storytelling becomes interesting when the character learns about their truth, and they own it. For example, King Lear had convinced he did wrong and committed the sin of pride when he banished her own daughter, but in the end, he had to face the consequence of what he did.
Storytelling Exercise No.4: Make them perform the action
Your storytelling can be effective if you develop your characters through action and not just words. You may have heard this before, and I am writing it down. If you want to make your writing strong, make sure you show and not just tell.
Make your character perform the action and solve all the unresolved problems. If they avoid something in the story, make them face it with courage or fear.
Make the character love their freedom and have them complete their task or work together to achieve their goals. The more you make your character the action-drive, the better grip it will have on your readers.
Furthermore, you can use emotions to drive your actions forward.
Storytelling Exercise No.5: Acronyms
Here’s another exercise for the character analysis. You can remember this through the following acronym.
This can be a great acronym that can help you remember the character.
- Speech: what do the characters say that builds the tension in the story or highlights the main theme of the play. What do they use in the language, and what particular words they use that sticks out the most?
- Thoughts: what do the characters think? What are the ideas or the ideologies?
- Effect: What effect do they leave on others? What are the consequences of their actions on others? How do they treat other characters in the story?
- Actions: What course of action do the characters take in the story? How do they take action? Is there anything that we could learn from the actions?
- Looks: How does the character look?
2Ps, and 1 S: Physiology, Psychology, and Sociology
Now here comes the second part to remember for your characterization. You can establish your character as resilient, unique with fresh air of breath through this acronym. Just focus on developing these three aspects of your character in the beginning. Henceforth, you can create real-life resembling characters.
Physiology: Focus on all the physical attributes of your character. Develop the sketch of how he looks, his physique, the structure, and the build. Remember, this aspect only sets the physical boundaries of the character.
Psychology: The psychology of the character is very crucial in character development. How do they feel, what is their mood, how do they behave, and what is their rationalizing process? Every aspect that could set the character in motion through their mental challenges and the barrier is important in the story. Include their strengths, weakness, traits, and vices.
Sociology: This aspect defines the environment of the character. It highlights the society in which the character belongs, the social and the wealthy status, their culture, religion, along other sociological factors that are crucial for the storytelling.