Hi everyone, I’m Ms Atifa, an English teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. When it comes to writing an interesting composition, one of the things that students can consider is characterisation. What exactly does characterisation refer to? I’m sure that some of you might have heard of this term before, whether it is in school or in your Lil’ but Mighty classes.
Characterisation mainly refers to describing characters in an interesting way, so that your reader can get a good sense of what kind of people they are. Having good characterisation allows your reader to relate to your characters better, and also find them more engaging.
Today, I am going to show you how to create unique characters who are not predictable. Let’s begin!
One way you can create a unique character is to create a personality that is different from your character’s expected role. It’s common for us to come across predictable characters such us a strong and courageous superhero, or a confident singer. These types of characters can still be part of interesting stories. However, to make a character unique and add an extra dimension, we can think of the contrast between their expected role and their personality.
One example is the well-known superhero Spider-Man, or Peter Parker. In many of the comics or movies that depict him, he is shown to be a mild-mannered and awkward character who was also bullied in his school. Even after he took on the role of a superhero, these personality traits remained in him while he overcame his internal struggles to shoulder his new responsibilities.
Similarly, when coming up with a unique character, we can think of how to create a contrast between the character’s personality and expected role. For example, a childish adult, or a timid fireman.
Let’s say you are writing a story about “Being Brave”. Imagine you are writing about a soccer player who is climbing a mountain for the first time. If your character is someone who is already brave and fearless, there might not be a lot to explore in the build-up and climax. However, imagine if the character has a fear of heights. It’s not common for soccer players to be seen as people with vulnerabilities like this, so this would make your character unique. Furthermore, this gives you the opportunity to resolve your character’s inner conflict to find their courage in the story, which would be more interesting than writing about a completely fearless athlete climbing a mountain.
In this example, let’s break down the character’s role and personality trait in two sentences. In this case:
- My character is a soccer player about to climb a mountain for the first time.
- However, he or she is afraid of heights.
The keyword to coming up with a unique character is to think of the “However”.
To practise this, why don’t you try a short exercise? Imagine you are writing a story about “Showing Kindness”. Again, think of two sentences that summarise your character’s role and personality trait following the same structure:
- My character is a __________(role in story).
- However, he or she is… (continue with a contrasting personality trait).
Here is one example of how we might create a unique character according to this topic.
- My character is a rich and popular student in school with many friends.
- However, he is selfish and does not like to share his belongings with others.
Based on this characterisation, there are many ideas you can explore to resolve a certain conflict this character might have according to the story’s topic. For instance, you can show how his unkind treatment of another character – perhaps he refuses to help out a poor classmate even though it is within his means – results in him losing his friends and popularity. As such, this makes him realise the importance of treating others with kindness, and causes him to make the decision to change and extend a helping hand to the classmate.
Before I end the video, let me leave you with a little word of caution: When creating unique characters, remember not to get carried away with them too! You should always ensure that you are familiar enough with these characters to describe them well. Lastly, ensure that they are still unique in a way that is related to the topic. Make it a point to resolve an important conflict they would have that is central to your story.
I hope that you have a try with this mini-exercise, and we would love to hear some of your responses in the comments. With the same topic of “Showing Kindness”, what are YOUR 2 sentences to summarise your character’s role? Share them below! Thank you for watching, and bye for now!
ENGLISH COMPOSITION PLAN? WHAT’S THAT?
Good writers plan. They think through what they want to write before they actually write.
Before writing a story, some good writers may write their plans down or draw a mind map.
Sometimes, they SEEM like they are not planning but actually, they already know what is necessary for a good English Composition (due to numerous practice!) and have formed a mental plan in their minds.
It all starts with a plan. With a good plan, half the battle is won before you even start writing.