What’s the difference between direct characterization and indirect characterization?

While direct characterization explains character details directly to the reader, indirect characterization shares details through a character's actions, dialogue, or internal monologue.

In creative writing, direct characterization is most common during the first appearance or introduction of key characters, as a way to establish core details and give some background like their occupation or main motivators. After the introduction, the reader has a clear idea of who the character is (more or less) while moving forward.


Indirect characterisation is the name given to the second kind of characterization. In contrast to indirect characterisation, which conveys character information through a character's actions, speech, or internal monologue, direct characterization explains character features to the reader directly.

Let's take the case of a character who dislikes children. An example of direct characterisation would adopt a direct strategy. The writer might say it plainly:

Old man Humphrey never liked children, even when he himself was a child. 

A more indirect method of characterisation would be used. Without saying it out loud, the author might create a moment in which the character expresses his or her hate of children by behaviour or dialogue:

Old man Humphrey stiffened the moment the child came close. “Get out of here!” he snapped abruptly. “I’m sick of you kids trampling my lawn!” 

Direct characterisation lacks the complexity and ambiguity of indirect characterization, which leaves more space for interpretation. In general, indirect characterisation enables readers to utilise their imagination more, which makes the plot and characters more relatable to them and improves reader engagement.

But when characterising a character at the beginning, clear characterization is essential since some elements are too significant for nuance. In conclusion, it's preferable to employ both direct and indirect characterisation while creating a novel or any other work of fiction.


The initial draught of any narrative is typically rife with action and activity for many writers. There is a lot happening. Characters abound in this story. There is a lot of action, dialogue, and detail.

Following that, you go back and edit, reducing everything to just what is truly required to convey the tale. How do you determine what is required? The key characters in your tale, their motives, and their objectives should be your main focus rather than all the extraneous bells and whistles.

Direct characterisation is useful in this situation. Writing that is strongly related to your characters' emotions and objectives, as opposed to writing that employs cold, objective descriptions of events or uses generalized terms for character traits. You can also download our app from the playstore or visit our website.