What Is Direct Characterization

Direct characterization is a writing technique in which an author tells the reader directly what a character is like, instead of showing or revealing details about the character in other ways.


Direct characterization leaves less to the reader’s imagination. It keeps the narrative short and increases its pace. Writers also use direct characterization to give some information about a character’s personality and later use indirect methods to reveal more about the character.


An author using direct characterization might write, “Betty was getting good grades in school.” If using indirect characterization, she might write, “When Betty’s mother looked at her report card, she smiled proudly at her daughter and promised her a bigger allowance.”


A writer may decide to tell or show information about a character in different ways for the sake of brevity, variety or other purposes. According to fiction writer Terry Ervin II, direct and indirect characterization can be used to provide the same information.

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