Posted by: anitanolan | November 24, 2010

Discussing Characterization, Part III

I presented workshops on Characterization and Tension at the NJ SCBWI Mentoring Workshop last weekend. Over the next few days, I’ll be writing about some of the things I learned while preparing for the workshop.

You want to describe your characters in a way that makes them come alive to your readers.

Richard Peck is great at describing his characters in such a way that the reader can see them.

From A Year Down Yonder:

As the train pulled out behind me, there came Grandma up the platform steps. My goodness, she was a big woman. I’d forgotten. And taller still with her spidery old umbrella held up to keep off the sun of high noon. A  fan of white hair escaped the big bun on the back of her head. She drew nearer till she blotted out the day.

And from A Season of Gifts

But the old lady who lived over there had to be just this side of the grave with one foot in it. She looked older than the town. But she was way too solid to be a ghost. You sure couldn’t see through her. You could barely see around her.

Peck is great at using exaggeration and extreme visuals to describe Grandma Dowdel. You can also use strong sensory details and unusual comparisons. Character descriptions such as these are particularly effective if you can combine several factors.



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