We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Direct Characterization?

By Ken Black
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Direct characterization is the process by which an author tells the reader something about a character's specific traits. In this case, the writer simply tells the reader what he or she wants the reader to know. Direct characterization is in contrast to indirect characterization, the latter being a process by which the author reveals information through the thoughts, words, or actions of the character. Both have a place in literature, but there are times when one method is generally preferred over the other.

In terms of description, direct characterization is often the easier thing to do for most writers. Many critics and teachers also consider it to be more unimaginative and boring than indirect characterization. Still, the choice on which technique to use is often an individual preference of the writer. It may also depend on the overall tone of the prose and what the author feels is most important to convey at that particular point.

As one example, direct characterization would be an author telling readers that a character abuses animals for no reason. Indirect characterization would describe the individual kicking a small puppy as he walks by on a sidewalk, and perhaps later being questioned by other characters about his motives. In both cases, the reader is left with information about how the person feels about animals. In the latter case, the writing may be more descriptive, but also generally takes more words and more time.

While direct characterization may not be the most popular literary tool at the present time, some famous authors have used it. Ernest Hemingway, who often wrote in a minimalist style and was not known for wasting words, made use of this type of characterization very often. That allowed Hemingway to write in a very unique style that was characterized by short, direct, and active voice sentences.

Outside of literary writing, this type of characterization is often used in non-fiction writing, especially in newspaper and magazine writing. In such writing, the main point is to convey as much information in as little space as possible. Therefore, indirect characterization may take up a lot of unnecessary space. Some journalists may use indirect characterization only when writing a feature story where they are give more literary freedom and are using a more narrative style.

The other benefit to direct characterization is that it does not give the reader the chance to misinterpret what the author wants the reader to understand about the character. In some cases, a reader could may get the wrong idea, or interpret that a thought was based on a misunderstanding, or that an action was likely a mistake. When the author tells the reader directly, there is little chance of that taking place.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.