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#atozchallenge: C is for #Characterization #fiction #writing #quotes

A to Z Challenge Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing
We’re off to a great start on the A to Z and I’m continuing with my mad rush of visiting other blogs! Today, I continue my theme with one of the most important skills of writing fiction: characterization.

Characterization is the
concept of creating characters for a narrative. It is a literary element and
may be employed in dramatic works of art or everyday conversation. Characters
may be presented by means of description, through their actions, speech, or
thoughts.” ~Wikipedia

Here are the writing quotes for today: 

  1. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  2. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  3. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters,
    make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what
    they are made of.
    — Kurt Vonnegut

 “When writing a novel a writer should
create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”
― Ernest Hemingway

“But if you don’t understand that story is
character and not just idea, you will not be able to breathe life into even the
most intriguing flash of inspiration.”
― Elizabeth George
Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Ah.. Nice quotes….All are good…

  • That last quote makes me think of the title of Blake Snyder's book, SAVE THE CAT. Because even villains need some redeeming quality! No one is all evil. Likewise, no one is all good, so the hero should have some character flaws. This is what I try to keep in mind as I write my people.

  • I should really be more aware of creating the character. Sometimes I find them flat after I write the story.
    I always think the comic relief character is the best in a book or movie.

  • I can't pick just one of these quotes. They're all good. I still have problems making believable characters. I'm finding I need to fix that in the novel I'm working on right now. I feel the characters are cardboard cut outs. But I haven't given it to anyone else to read so we'll see.

  • Enchantress says:

    I find it hard to play with Characters..For me they are fixed.They do not change with time

  • Inge H. Borg says:

    Great post to remind us. I think, every reader wants to identify himself at least with part of the protagonists, part of the time – even if he wouldn't admit it. It gets him involved in the story. (You may, of course, substitute "her" for "him" – I am just tired of all this politically correct nonsense….)

  • angelsbark says:

    another great post. I love Kurt Vonnegut's quote!

  • These are amazing ideas to write a beautifully told story. Thanks for this one:)

  • Anna Tan says:

    "My theory of characterization is basically this: Put some dirt on a hero, and put some sunshine on the villain, one brush stroke of beauty on the villain."–Justin Cronin

    I agree with this quote! It makes the heroes more human and the villains more likeable. Or at least more sympathisable (if that's a word)

    Deeply Shallow

  • Ananya Tales says:

    Thanks for sharing !

  • Jemima Pett says:

    I like the O'Connor one and the Vonnegut one too. I suppose that's why my characters always surprise me when I'm writing their story.

  • Thanks for sharing. I wonder if that's why some blogs are so successful; even though they're writing about their lives, it's believable and relate-able. Something for me to always remember.

  • Juliet's quote is my fave and most true to characterization to me. Also Kurt's #3 is so me, I do awful things to lovely characters. Even in my fan fiction my fave characters from shows get put through so much. Sometimes I feel bad. Character I love, Carlisle Cullen from the Twilight books and movies. Hate? A new one is LC Karla from the novel Inside by Maria V. Snyder that I'm currently reading.

  • Shailaja V says:

    I love Vonnegut's third quote! Way to make the characters realistic. I find that the more flawed I make them, the more realistic they tend to be. That ensures more people can relate to them 🙂

    A to Z participant 2014

  • says:

    great quotes. my favourite one is by Flannery O'Connor

  • klahanie says:

    Hi Damyanti,

    Just checking your list of blogs you love. I promise not to shed any doggy tears….Creating my characters was very simple. One of my main characters, a fictional, deluded human named, Gary, is very simple. I have dialogue with him within my stories. The bottom line is that the reader should feel like they are part of the story. I even try to involve the reader as one of my characters. How about that.

    I'm getting very stressed from spending several hours pawing away to about 100 bloggers. I do hope this is the last year of the A to Z. Thank you, I beg you, make it STOP!

    Penny, the pawsitive host of the Alphabark Challenge, 2014!

  • I really take Kurt's #3 to heart. Gleefully. >8D

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

  • Good quotes that I like and agree with. Characters should be believable, so should the dialogue. My characters form naturally as I type, since I seldom make notes, and work on impulse.

  • Tina says:

    I like the part about crawling into someone's skin. When I write a character, I get to know them as the story unfolds. I'm a pantser…if you can believe that, what with all my organization and planning, yet that's just how it turned out. Kinda like the mathematician being a writer. I'm just weird I guess 😉
    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

  • Great quotes! I like this one best: Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

  • Mark Clough says:

    I liked the Kurt Vonnegut quote – probably my inner sadist struggling to get out. I'm a first-timer on the A to Z Challenge and it's fun, but daunting when you see how many blogs there are. Worried I'll miss a good one. My blog is at Please feel free to visit.

  • Li says:

    I relate to Hemingway's quote. I love when I'm reading a story and there's a moment when I think "Hey! That's ME! (or someone that I know)

  • Mason Canyon says:

    From a reader's viewpoint, I agree with Hemingway's quote. When the characters seem like real people, I enjoy the book more and want to continue reading about those people in future books.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    I remember that "glass of water" quote. It has stuck with me since I began writing. Such a great piece of advice.

  • It's so true. Characters must be real. Ideas must become more than a breeze in the air. They must turn into a believable story, readers can relate to.

    MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Writing Tips
    Effectively Human
    Lots of Crochet Stitches

  • Bish Denham says:

    Most of my characters seem to come to me almost completely formed. I like the quote from Juliet Marillier.

  • I do agree with these points, but without a plot to go with them, characters can get lost 🙂 Having said that, I recently saw Only Lovers Left Alive and the plot for this is fairly thin, but it just doesn't matter, because the characters are beautiful and subtle and they were so well crafted they made me want to pick up my pen and try to be that good.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles – A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX – A to Z Drabblerotic

  • Vidya Sury says:

    Great quotes! I like that they should be humanized so that the reader feels them!

    Love, Vidya

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    The third point strikes a chord… because whenever I write a sad story or poem, readers relate to it more.
    Excellent points 🙂

  • I love that last one, well rounded characters are important.

  • Richa Singh says:

    Out of all the quotes the one I loved the most was that to be a sadist because honestly real life is also like that! No too sweet amazingly happy people can survive long. I enjoyed all the quotes 🙂


  • shelly says:

    Excellent teaching quotes.

    Hugs and chocolate!

  • I relate to O'Connor's quote. Characters usually come first for me. I see them in a situation, usually the ending, and then I create a story for them to reach that point.