On “Characterization”

March 11, 2010

Now don’t take this as me saying I’ve got it all figured out, but it has always bothered me when I hear a writer criticized because his creations(s) lacked “characterization,” at least on the basis that (a) there wasn’t a “complex” inner dialogue (usually attributed to a character with an actual value system), that (b) the character’s decision came too easily, or (c) because the critic didn’t necessarily agree with a conclusion that was reached, etc.

I stumbled upon this quote by James Enge, author of Blood of Ambrose which I thought summed up the whole thing pretty well:

I don’t think introspection is the only or the best way to develop character. People are what they do: in John Hocking’s trenchant phrase, ‘Action is character.’

James Enge


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