The Seeds of Characterization

by Alexandra Combot, Age 15, Canada


Writing. Planning. Characterization. They’re some of the hardest, most complex practices that the world has to offer. Some days you’ll get the worst writer’s block in the world and lie in an emotionally distraught heap on the floor craving creativity. But most days, your fingers will fly across the keyboard in a sort of trance that only writers can find themselves in. You transport yourself to another world, but better yet, it’s a world of your own creation.

And how cool is that?

I like to think that the characters in my mind are seeds just waiting to grow. Those seeds don’t ever leave your mind; they just need the proper nutrition to begin their healthy journey into life. But enough with the plant analogies! Think of how you feel when you write about that little character that’s been in your mind for three years. You have a connection, but it’s feeble.

That feeble connection is your character’s lifeline, so help the poor guy grow!

Sometimes when you’re trying to develop a character, you’ve got to ask him the questions that feel a little trivial at first. How do you feel about pets? If I insulted you, how would you respond? What do you like to wear? These questions are the ones that will slowly ease you into creating a character and will allow you to have a little fun with it. If you begin too boldly by asking your character specific questions like: Are you a loyal soldier or a sneaky conspirator?  What is your deepest, darkest secret? you’ll find yourself a little overwhelmed. Start slow. Take it easy. Leave the plot-related questions for later.

So make a plan. Don’t rush. Remember that most people go to school for years to develop characterization skills. It’s a complex rollercoaster full of intense loop-de-loops. The key to a great story is to always have characters that are true to themselves and fun to read about. Think of yourself as the reader of your story. Are you being dragged around the world by your characters, or are you walking side by side with them? Do you understand the characters in a profound and interesting way? Think about it, and always remember that there are plenty of seeds in your mind still waiting to grow.


Alexandra Combot is a 15 year old Canadian writer. Alexandra says, “I write everything from poetry to short stories to novels. I am in love with the English language and try to learn new words and vocabulary every day. Writing is my life.”  




One comment on “The Seeds of Characterization

  1. deb

    thank you for this wonderfully insightful essay.

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