Have you ever been reading a book or watching a movie and wondered how the author was able to so completely paint a picture of a character?

Have you ever taken a second and tried to figure out how the author was able to get inside of the head of this character and put their emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and values into words?

The answer lies in the concept of indirect characterization.


What Is indirect characterization

What Is indirect characterization?

Indirect characterization is a literary technique that allows writers to give an idea of a character without directly describing them. It is often used in the form of similes, metaphors, and analogies.

This literary device can help writers expand on their writing and give more detail to their characters. It also helps writers avoid cliches and stereotypes.

Indirect characterization works best when writers create comparisons between the reader and the characters.

For example, if a writer wanted to compare a character to a lion, he might write “He stalked towards his prey like a lion in the savannah.”

Another example is: “His hair was black as night with eyes as blue as the ocean.” These quotes also include similes which are another type of indirect characterization.



Indirect characterization works by putting something side-by-side with something else for comparison.

For example: “His hair was black as night” compares someone’s hair to the color of night instead of saying their hair was black directly.

What Is Indirect Characterization?

This technique is used in books, movies, and even plays to give readers or viewers an understanding of what characters are like without letting them know directly.

This is done by giving them examples of how this character might act in certain situations. Indirect characterization is all about giving your audience subtle clues about what type of person your character is so that they can create an image in their minds as they read or watch your work.

It allows them to make informed conclusions based on what they see and hear, instead of being told outright who these people are.

It’s one thing to be told that a character is mean or nice, it’s another entirely for them to see him being mean or nice through his actions.

Examples Of Indirect Characterization In Writing

When you’re writing, sometimes you don’t want to take an obvious approach of telling readers how a character looks or acts. You can instead leave things ambiguous and let readers fill in the gaps for themselves.


This technique is called indirect characterization, and it’s especially useful when you want to give your characters depth and make them more realistic.

The following are examples of indirect characterization in writing:

Mannerisms: This technique involves showing a character’s personality through his mannerisms. For example, a character who rubs his hands together might be worried about something. A woman who twirls her hair might be nervous or shy.

Appearance: Appearance is a trickier part of indirect characterization because it can be misleading if not handled carefully. For example, someone with unkempt hair might just be lazy rather than messy or disorganized in general.

Keep this in mind when choosing appearance as a way to characterize your characters — you might need to add some other details to make their personalities clear.

It can be an effective way to provide depth to your characters without seeming heavy-handed or artificial. It can also help keep readers from making assumptions about your characters that might not match what you have in mind.

Examples Of Indirect Characterization In A Screenplay

Indirect characterization is a very powerful tool in a writer’s toolkit. It’s a great way to quickly create multiple characters, and by extension the world in which they exist.

Indirect characterization is the most general of our character development techniques. In other words, it’s the broadest stroke we can use that covers the most ground. It’s not so much that indirect characterization paints a more complete picture of a character as it does give us an impression of him or her without actually defining them directly.

This makes it perfect for establishing a large cast of characters in a short amount of time, or for introducing new characters into an existing cast without muddying up the waters too much.

Perhaps most importantly, indirect characterization allows us to introduce complex and potentially difficult-to-write characters by allowing us to define them through their actions and other people’s responses to them, rather than through direct exposition or internal monologue.

You can use indirect characterization in any number of ways:

When you have what you think is a fairly straightforward character, but you’re having trouble getting all your ideas down on paper because there are too many competing.


Examples Of Indirect Characterization In Film

Some of the best examples of indirect characterization involve “foreshadowing,” which is a way to hint at future events or reveal aspects of a character that would otherwise be difficult to show. A great example is found in the movie Forrest Gump.

The movie stars Tom Hanks as a character with a disability, but he is able to perform amazing athletic feats that seem superhuman. In one scene, Forrest Gump and his friend Bubba are fishing from a small boat when it capsizes.

Bubba is unable to swim, so Forrest saves him from drowning by using his own body as a floatation device. Viewers know that Forrest has superhuman strength, but they are not aware of how this strength will be revealed until another scene reveals that Forrest was in the Army.

In another example, the main character in Trainspotting is shown taking drugs at the beginning of the film. In this case, viewers know that drug use is going to play an important role later in the story because it already has been introduced.

Viewers can use what they know about a character’s personality traits to infer other traits and qualities.

Indirect Characterization vs. Direct Characterization

One of the most common types of essays is the “characterization essay.” This kind of paper requires you to describe a person, place, event, or anything that can be characterized. In this article, we will talk about indirect and direct characterization.

Typical Characterization Essay: You need to first determine what type of characterization essay you are going to write. There are two types of essays for this topic: indirect characterization and direct characterization.


Indirect Characterization

The indirect characterization essay is written as a narrative. The writer describes a person by describing the events in which he/she is involved. This method gives a detailed description of the person and also reveals his/her personality and character traits in that process.

Direct Characterization

The writer directly tells how the characters look like through their actions and words or thoughts. This method gives very little information about the story’s characters, but the writer can fully express the characters’ personalities.

What Are Real-Life Examples Of Indirect Characterization?

Have you ever been reading a book, or even just a story, and wondered how the author came up with that character? If so, you’ve read an example of indirect characterization.

Indirect characterization is when the author doesn’t directly describe a character.

Instead, they help the reader infer things about that person by showing them as they interact with other characters. What are some examples of indirect characterization in real life?

Let’s look at some examples of indirect characterization in books and films.

Example 1: The Lord of the Rings. In the first installment of this classic trilogy, Frodo Baggins is not characterized by his physical appearance or even his personality traits. Rather, he is characterized by his actions and what he does for other people.

By consistently risking his own safety for those around him, the audience gets an idea of how Frodo feels about doing what’s right instead of what’s easy or convenient for himself. This makes him one of my favorite literary characters ever.

Example 2: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. In this classic novel, Huck is not characterized by any single description or action on his part. Rather, he is characterized through what other characters say and do. For example, when Huck decides to help Jim escape slavery.


The Five Methods Of Indirect Characterization

There are five methods of indirect characterization in literature. The first is when the narrator comments on a character’s appearance or personality, but that character is not described.

This is most often used to set up a comparison or contrast, as in: Jane was an attractive woman; her husband, Jim, was quite homely.

The second is when the author describes a character based on what others say about him or her.This can be useful for characters who play an important role, but whom the author does not wish to describe for some reason.

A third method is when the narrator describes how someone acts rather than his or her physical appearance.

The fourth method is when there is no description at all and we know nothing about the characters except what they do and say. This is most often used in comedies and short stories where there are no descriptions given at all.

The fifth method is when characters are described with general terms rather than specific ones. For instance, instead of saying that a girl has dark hair, the author might say that she has brown hair. This can give the impression of a greater number of characters than there actually are in the story because it makes them seem more generalized.



Examples Of Indirect Characterization In Popular Culture

Indirect characterization is the use of an object, event, or setting to reveal a character’s personality or traits. This literary device has been used in popular culture almost as long as we have been telling stories.

It is present in ancient Greek mythology, Shakespearean plays, and modern television shows like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.” Even if you are unfamiliar with the term indirect characterization, you have probably seen it in action before.

Typical examples of indirect characterization include: Actions that reveal personality.

-“For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway provides an example of indirect characterization through the actions of its characters.

-Hemingway’s novel is based on the events leading up to a failed attempt by Republican forces to stop the fascist takeover of Spain. The novel follows the life of Robert Jordan, an American fighting with a group of guerilla insurgents.

-Jordan attempts to blow up a bridge so that fascist soldiers will be unable to cross into his country. He hides out with a band of local villagers, who know that they will be tortured if they are found helping him.

The villagers prepare for their encounter with Jordan by drinking heavily. They discuss religion and whether or not God will protect them.

Taking Indirect Characterization In To The Next Level In Your Writing

Though it may seem a bit daunting at first, indirect characterization is a writing technique that can be quite useful to you. This is especially true if you have a difficult time writing, as when you are trying to convey the traits of a character without labeling them directly.

When you start using indirect characterization in your writing, tone is going to be one of the most important aspects of your work that you need to pay attention to. Indirect characterization means making inferences about a character’s personality and traits, which can be difficult when you aren’t directly saying what they are like.

If done poorly, indirect characterization can result in being confusing and hard for the reader to follow. The one thing that you need to make sure that your audience understands is how this character is different from any other character in your story.

Your audience needs to know how they are supposed to feel about this character in relation to others that they have read about. The easiest way for an author to ensure this is by making sure that their indirect characterization is consistent throughout the story and telling a story with this character as the main focus.

With indirect characterization, there are going to be times when it seems like you should use direct characterization instead.