Guide to Literary Terms

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Direct Characterization

Direct characterization occurs when an author explicitly tells the reader what kind of person a character is. This information can be given by a narrator or a character in the story.

Correct examples:

  • “Sam was a stubborn and proud boy.”

  • “‘I am a very independent person,’ Sam said.”

    • In this case, a character is directly characterizing himself.

Incorrect example:

  • “Sam was not pleased when he received a C- on his math exam.”

    • Remember that direct characterization occurs only when something is said that speaks to someone’s character traits. Not every explicit description or revelation is direct characterization.