Story through Dialogue, Part 3: Characterization

When dialogue helps to reveal something about the character that we might not know from a description of the character’s appearance or from the character’s behavior, then the dialogue is being used to contribute to the characterization of a character. For instance, if a character speaks with an accent, the reader may learn that a character comes from another country, culture, or region. The type of vocabulary the character uses may also help show the reader how intelligent or educated the character is, and the slang words the character uses help show the reader what time period or place the character is in. Also, if the character’s words do not match his or her actions, then the reader might assume that the character is untrustworthy or sneaky.

Activity: Setting the Scene with Dialogue as Characterization

Instructions: For this exercise, you will write a scene that is made up only of dialogue. Think of a specific situation with two characters. Give the characters names and state what you’re going to reveal about each character through dialogue. Then create the dialogue the two characters will use as characterization.

  1. What is the situation?
  2. What is the first character’s name?
  3. What will you reveal about him/her/it through dialogue?
  4. What is the second character’s name?
  5. What will you reveal about him/her/it through dialogue?
  6. Create the dialogue between your two characters:

Next Tuesday, we’ll emphasize the Movement function.

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