Which Statement Best Describes How an Author Uses Indirect Characterization?

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  • October 13, 2023
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  • 7 min read

book writing

What Is Characterization?

Characterization is how an author describes the characters in the story; this has two types: direct and indirect.

Indirect characterization is when writers hint at a character’s personality and thoughts without telling us directly. Instead, they show us what they say and how other people react to them through words.

Direct characterization is when an author tells us what the character is like. So, with indirect, we get to be spies and put together clues to learn more about the character ourselves. Sometimes, this characterization method is very important in writing because it lets us build a picture of the character as we read, which makes reading more exciting and interactive.

Understanding Indirect Characterization

Indirect characterization is how writers give hints about a character’s personality through actions and words instead of just telling us straight up. Imagine trying to guess what a new classmate is like based on how they act and what they say, rather than someone just telling you about them. That’s how this technique works in stories.

One cool way to remember how this works is to think of the word “STEAL.” It stands for speech, thoughts, effect, actions, and looks. So, when we read, we can look at what people say (Speech), think (Thoughts), how they affect others (Effect), what they do (Actions), and how they look (Looks) to better understand them.


Speech is a great way to show what a character is like. It’s all about what and how the actors talk. You can learn a lot about a character from the words they use, the tone of their voice, and the way they talk. For instance, a character who talks formally and smoothly might be wise or polite. You might think that a character who talks loudly or uses a lot of slang is rude or unruly.

But it’s not just about showing who you are. The things people talk about and the subjects they choose reveal what they want and why they do what they do. For instance, a character who talks about their hopes and dreams is probably driven by their goals. So, if we listen to what the personalities say, we can figure out what makes them tick without the author telling us directly. It’s like putting together a puzzle. This makes reading feel like a fun game of spy.

Thoughts and Inner Dialogue

Indirect characterization brings a character’s inner world to life and frequently reveals hidden conflicts, wants, fears, and motives. Take the example; when an author lets us see a character’s thoughts or hear what they are saying to themselves, we can see their problems and hopes, and it makes us feel like we are in their shoes, going through their problems. With this method, we can see the inner battles that a character is having without them knowing. It’s that we know the personal talk in their head.

By looking at a character’s inner thoughts and views, we can see how they change and grow throughout the story without their having to say anything. We see it all in their thoughts and inner conversations. Indirect characterization shows us the deeper parts of a character’s personality and how they grow and change over time. This makes the story easily understandable, and the characters seem more real.

Effects on Others

The effects people have on those around them are a common way that indirect characterization manifests itself. Take a look at how the figures interact with each other. This is like seeing how a character’s friends or enemies feel or act towards them, which gives you much information about who they are and their part in the story.

How a character affects others also shows their role in the story. Think of a character who always makes other people laugh. This character could be the story’s funny relief. A person in the story who gives advice and shares their knowledge could be a guide or mentor. We get to know people better by looking at their relationships and influences. Whenever you connect with a character, you add another piece to the puzzle that helps you see the whole picture of who they are.

Actions and Behavior

When a character is indirectly characterized, what they do and decide tells us much about who they are. We can learn about a character’s beliefs, what’s important to them, and what kind of person they are by watching what they do. This is what it means to show values. For example, if a character helps someone in need, that shows they care about kindness and helping others.

A character’s acts don’t just tell us who they are. They also make the story go faster. We call this moving the plot forward. People’s choices change the story by creating new problems and ways to solve them. For example, if a character chooses to go on a trip, what they do on that journey will change the story and make new things happen.

Look and Physical Description

You could think of it as the Ghostwriting Founders author giving hints about a character’s personality through small details instead of telling us directly about them. Think about how a character looks and what they’re like physically. These are like visual clues about who they are and what part they might play in the story.

When an author talks about how a character looks or what they wear, it’s like they’re drawing a picture of who that character is. For example, a person in a uniform could be a soldier or a police officer, which tells us something about their job and past. Not only clothes, though, but how a person walks or talks can also tell us a lot about who they are and how they feel.

So, indirect character development, primarily through appearance, makes us readers feel like detectives who have to put together clues to better understand the people. It’s more fun and interesting to read when we learn more about the people over time.

Essential Elements and Detailed Insights

Aspect of Characterization Description Example/Significance
Indirect Characterization Writers hint at a character’s personality through actions, speech, and reactions of others, rather than direct statements. Allows readers to deduce character traits like a puzzle.
Direct Characterization The author explicitly describes the character’s traits. Provides clear, straightforward information about the character.
Speech Reveals character through dialogue and tone. A character’s choice of words and tone can indicate their background, education, and personality.
Thoughts and Inner Dialogue Shows character’s internal conflicts and motivations. Readers gain insight into the character’s internal struggles and desires.
Effects on Others How a character influences other characters. Demonstrates the character’s role and impact in the story.
Actions and Behavior Character’s decisions and actions reveal their values and beliefs. Actions often speak louder than words in showing who a character truly is.
Look and Physical Description Physical appearance and mannerisms provide clues about the character. Helps in visualizing the character and understanding their background or lifestyle.


You can think of indirect characterization as just like solving a puzzle. We get different pieces from the author, like what a character does, thinks, says, looks, and how others react to them. People who read the book need to combine these bits to get a full picture of the character. It helps make the characters seem real and alive, which makes the story more remembered and easy to relate to. It also makes reading more interesting and full of flavor.

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