The techniques that a writer uses to bring the characters to life in a story are called characterization. With successful characterization, people in literature become vivid, believable figures resembling those in real life. We can often picture them physically; more important, we can clearly understand their motives and reactions.
There are two basic methods of characterization: direct and indirect. In direct characterization, a writer comments explicitly on the appearance, outlook, or motivations of a character. In indirect characterization, the reader must evaluate evidence about the character’s personality and motives. This evidence may come from a variety of sources: what the character says, how he or she acts in certain situations, and what other characters think or say about her. The effect is cumulative. Contemporary writers favour the indirect approach.
The main character who interests readers most. Whether or not we find this character sympathetic, the writer must ensure that she or he is believable, that he really could exist. So, it is equally important that the protagonist be a fully rounded character, with enough human qualities to convince the reader. Just as people in life are rarely all good or bad, the most memorable characters in literature combine different qualities, contradictions and inconsistencies.
The opposite of a rounded character is a flat, or stock, character (sometimes called a stereotype, or 1 dimensional), for example the mad scientist, evil stepmother, or the tough school bully. Such characters’ appearance, actions, and thoughts are all too predictable. We accept flat characters as members of the supporting cast, but not as a protagonist.
Static and Dynamic Characters
A static character remains very much the same throughout the work. They may be wise or foolish, but always stubborn. A dynamic character undergoes a change in personality or attitude. Dynamic characters learn something, or suffer some event that changes them – for better, or for worse.
The person who tells the story in a work of fiction. Every story has a narrator – he may or may not be a character in the book.
Point of view
The angle from which an author tells a story. Point of view has a crucial impact on plot, characterization, and tone of the work.
In the first-person participant point of view, the main character tells the story. You see everything through his eyes, and make judgements based on what he tells you.
In the first-person observer point of view, another character tells the story, telling you his recollections of the main characters and events.
In the third-person limited point of view, the narrator takes less of an obvious role in the story, and limits what we learn about the story to just one character’s inner thoughts. The narrator doesn’t tell us what the other characters are thinking.
In the third-person omniscient we are allowed to read and hear the inner thoughts of several characters.