Character Analysis: Writing Tips

A character analysis must evaluate certain traits of a literary character. It should focus on the conflicts they experience and their overall role in the story. When analyzing a character, you should stick with a critical approach, asking brief questions and providing conclusions. Usually, writers describe the appearance of their characters in detail so that readers can understand the body type, age, ethnicity, and other details about the character. Writers may also focus on the character’s behavior, personality, motivation, and relationships with other characters. Therefore, we recommend that you analyze these elements to write a comprehensive analysis. Learn how to write a good character analysis at blog.

A Character Analysis: What Does It Mean?

Usually, writers don’t mention the traits of their characters directly so that the readers can figure out these traits while reading. Character analysis is aimed to extract any subtle hints that the author included in the book, reading between the lines and focusing on the minor details that may not grab attention initially.

For example, the author may not state that a character is brave and strong but you can draw such conclusions if you see that this character has gone through various difficult experiences. To write a character analysis, you need to analyze its behavior and explain it to your readers.

How to Analyze a Character

Analyzing a character is an interesting task. You should be familiar with the basics of investigative theory and be interested in the personality of this non-existent person, as well as in the author’s creative process. Fortunately, you shouldn’t be a psychologist to analyze fictional characters. Here are some things you should focus on:

  • Actions. How does the character act? How do their actions affect others? The character’s actions can say a lot about their personality.
  • Motivation. Why does the character act the way they do? Do they act ethically, logically, or impulsively? Why do they make certain choices?
  • What do they say? Does the character use certain slang words? What is their educational background? Do they use generational phrases? Do they use any professional terms?
  • Descriptions. How do others describe the character? How does the character describe themselves? For example, descriptions can be emotional, physical, or judgmental.
  • Names. What information does the character’s name provide? Can you make any assumptions based on their names?

How to Write a Character Study

There are different types of characters, and all of them play a certain role. Some characters are insignificant, others are stereotypical. They may also be kind or evil. Here are the main types of characters that you should consider:

  • Protagonist
    It’s the main character in the story. The protagonist moves the story forward with their actions. If a character doesn’t make any considerable impact on the story, it’s not a protagonist.
  • Antagonist
    This is a character that everyone hates. The main function of the antagonist is to create a conflict. This character can help you write about motivation.
  • Major character
    This character plays an important role in the story, and it may fall into several character categories. For instance, it may be the protagonist’s close friend. Your goal is to explore a major character’s interactions with others.
  • Minor character
    It plays a smaller role. Usually, minor characters perform technical functions in the plot.
  • Dynamic character
    This character constantly changes, develops, and expands. Both the protagonist and antagonist can be very dynamic.
  • Static character
    This character doesn’t change throughout the story, which doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t analyze it. For example, there might be a reason why such characters don’t change.
  • Stereotypes
    There are many characters that just fill up space. These are typical housewives and husbands, neighbors, cops, bullies, geeks, etc.

Character Analysis Outline

When analyzing characters, you may notice that they fall into several character categories, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You need to describe the character’s personality, value, and role in the story

Start with the personality. Pay your attention to the character’s emotions and actions. The character’s behavior will help you better understand their personality. You may also look for such details as the way the character moves and their mannerisms. Eventually, you will realize that the character fits into one of the categories above.

Explore the character’s role in the story. Make sure to define this role clearly. Most likely, the character will not only have a specific role in the story (either major or minor) but also their unique character traits.

Outline the way the character grows and develops. To complete your analysis, you should explain the way the character changes with time.

Most characters change several times throughout the story. Pay your attention to the moments where the character demonstrates their weaknesses or strengths, learns something new, begins new relationships, etc. Indicate the scenes where such changes occur.

An Outline Example

Similar to other essays, character analysis essays must have an introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • Introduction
    This is the basis of the essay because it asks the main question or makes the main statement. It helps readers understand what to expect from the rest of the essay. In the introductory section, grab your readers’ attention and provide a brief description of the character.
  • Body
    In the body of your essay, organize information and your ideas logically. Every body paragraph must answer a particular question. We recommend that you answer the following questions:

    • What does the character look like? What is their background? What can you say about their personality?
    • What conflicts does the character go through? What difficulties do they overcome? What are the reasons for their failures?
    • What can your readers learn from this character? What are the important lessons and takeaways?
  • Conclusion
    This section must summarize the whole essay. You should restate your thesis statement and highlight the key traits or details about the character. Paraphrase the most important points from the body of the essay and provide a few good examples to illustrate them. You may also want to end your essay with a good quote from the book.

If you need any help with your character analysis essay, don’t hesitate to contact!

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