The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

Writing Ideas: Characterization

When you write you cannot cut corners by making characters bland, or your work is BORRrring. Make your writing explores the nature of your real–life characters. Use characterization to make interesting personalities come alive! It is the real strength of your writing piece.

Capturing in print the nature of real–life characters ain't easy. It takes talent. But it’s what you have to do.

How do you do it?

Be rich with your dialog. Be choosy what you put in your description. Maybe a chipped tooth here, Cross pen there. But that’s about all. (In your descriptions/narrative flesh out your characters in just few a words—a subject for another page on this section on this website.)

Remember:  when we make characters interesting, personalities come alive.

The good news? There's no such thing as "pushing the envelope" nor crossing a "fine line" in this good work either.

Do not feel ambivalent when you are creating your characters. Go "full stop," as they would say in the UK. (Oh, and did I tell you? You don’t have to worry about being PC when you are creating a character. Just make them honest, real. It’s critical.) Do not second guess yourself. Yep. Go with your instincts.

People are contradictions. People have silly ideas. People say silly things, think silly things. We write about them: we write about people we know, people we’ve heard about, people we’ve eavesdropped on at a café, people we’ve made up in our heads, or people who are in a collage in our heads of those who we’ve come in contact with. That's what make us humorists! Our ability to do this.

So in your writing you have to have to clearly in your head exactly what each of your characters look like, smell like, ate for breakfast, think they’d like to watch on YouTube, what their favorite sports car would be. I don’t know. You figure it out. And what country do they live in? And what age? How tall? How old? What accent? What relatives? How quickly do they talk? or walk? And don’t describe it. Just have it in your mind when you write the piece.


I’m all done. Hope this helps. It has surely helped me for 30 years of publishing. (I’ve published under pseudonyms mostly, except for my nonfiction and academic work which I have published under my own name.)

Keep the faith.

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©Margie Culbertson

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