Explicit characterization The author literally tells the audience what a character is like. This may be done via the narrator, another character or by the character themselves.  For example: John had been a trouble maker since the day he was born.

Implicit characterization The audience must infer for themselves what the character is like through the character’s thoughts, actions, speech (choice of words, manner of speaking), physical appearance, mannerisms and interaction with other characters, including other characters’ reactions to that particular person.


When we look at how a person interacts with other people (or animals), we decide if that person is a good guy, a bad guy or a combination.

He grabbed the puppy by the throat. She punched his lights out.

  • A sound (accent): “Ya’ll good?” Southern John said.
    The secret to writing convincing accents is creating only the illusion of one. Don’t write in the full accent, keep it easy to read and understand.
  • A stutter: Show the stutter at the introduction of the character and confirm it occasionally so show it’s a mannerism, not a situational thing. Don’t stutter through every bit of dialogue, it’s tiresome.

By using gestures, you portray the character while developing mood.

  • ‘I won’t hurt you,’ Anne said, running her fingernail along his jaw line.


His eyes couldn’t help but stray towards the bread on the table. It wasn’t until he heard the click, that he realized Jane had pulled a gun on him. (A hungry person will notice food before other items).


‘Fuck this shit,’ thought Jim.


Jane’s eyes welled up at the sight of the broken beetle stuck to the sole of her shoe.


John is a cat person. Jane is a dog person.