by Donna Radley
- Howdy Ma’am: Three Ways To Introduce Your Characters In The First Few Lines
- Dear Writer – Three Tips To Help You Get Your Pomodoro On
- While you were reading – Three tips for aspiring writers
In this post ,we share examples of characterisation using other characters’ viewpoints.
Have you ever been in a conversation where someone discusses a mutual friend, not knowing that you know that person? Has the other opinion of your mutual friend ever been so different to yours that it has left you saying, ‘Huh?’
The fact is we don’t only see people the way they are, but the way we are. Because our psyches and worldviews are like lenses through which we view the world, they bend our perception of people.
Does this mean that no one can ever be truly known? Not necessarily. In your novel, the various characters’ views of your protagonist are like jigsaw puzzle pieces. When readers put the pieces together, they get a better picture of who the main character is. The pieces that the characters hold will also reveal who they are.
Sheriff Elliot West
In this series on characterisation, I’ve looked at how to introduce your character and tips to round out your character. I’ve used Sheriff Elliot West as an example, and will continue where I left off.
The Sheriff, as seen by his love interest Mae felt, rather than heard, the drumming hooves on the dry earth. A calf bellowed behind her, eager to get out of the corral. ‘All right, all right! Gimme a moment,’ she called over her shoulder, slapping her leather gloves against her worn chaps. ‘You talking to your cows again?’ Elliot grinned as he dismounted in a whirl of dust that caught in her throat. She loved his grin. It was rare, and all the better for it. She tilted her face towards him, waiting for the kiss. It was feather light, salty with summer sweat. ‘Hmm,’ she smiled. When she opened her eyes, she pulled up short. His grey eyes were more serious than usual. ‘Something’s wrong,’ he said. ‘What is it?’ ‘Can’t put my finger on it. Town’s restless. Colby’s restless.’ Mae rolled her eyes. ‘Colby’s restless because he doesn’t want to work. He’s done nothing but shine his boots since you made him deputy.’ Elliot grunted. ‘Don’t be hard on him. He’s had a raw deal ever since his dad died. Least I could do for him.’ ‘Hmm. You’re too kind for your own good, Sheriff,’ she said, batting at him with her gloves. The Sheriff, as seen by his deputy Colby laced his fingers behind his head and rocked. The wooden chair groaned under his weight. He ignored it. Elliot – sorry, TheSheriff had left his hat on its peg by the door. The edges were curled and tattered. For a man who had eyes like a hawk, he sure didn’t seem to take note of his own appearance. He should. After all, he was the law. The townsfolk needed someone to look up to. Someone to respect. He snorted. ‘Whatcha snorting at, boy?’ He lunged forward, the legs of the chair slamming into the floorboards. ‘Easy, boy, easy,’ said the voice at the back window. Colby recognised the whiskey fumes. It was Ray, Elliot’s father. ‘You ready for tonight, boy?’ ‘Of course I’m ready,’ Colby said. ‘We’re blowing the tracks at seven. Hang back so we can deal with Elliot. When you ride back into town, just make sure you ramble on about the dark and how you couldn’t see who you were shooting.’ ‘Yes, yes. Too dark.’ ‘Oh, and Colby? Congratulations.’ ‘On?’ ‘On becoming the new sheriff,’ Ray squeezed out a rusty laugh. Colby swallowed against the bile.
What have you learned about Elliot from Mae and Colby’s thoughts and dialogue? When you consider who Mae is, what does Elliot’s choice of woman tell you about him? What does Colby’s guilt and shame tell you about Elliot?
This is one of the characterisation tools I love most. Have fun!
TOP TIP: Use our Character Creation Kit to help you create great characters for your stories.
by Donna Radley