Week Two / Day Two Lesson Plan

Characterization Lesson

Duration:  40 minutes of a 50-minute period

Rationale:  Because characterization is such an important element of short fiction, the students will review basic character and characterization concepts before they put their knowledge to use in analysis of literature and in their own writing.  Human beings are drawn to other human beings, and the characters in a work of fiction are no exception.  We can all learn a little more about ourselves when we look into what makes the characters in the novels and short stories tick.  The world will be a better place if we understand ourselves as well as others.  Literature can help in that regards.           


Objectives:  Students will have learned:

 ► To define the differences between static and dynamic characters.

 ► To relate the types of characters (static and dynamic) to various literature examples.

 ► To list direct and indirect characterization techniques.

 ► To utilize direct and indirect characterization in their own short story using research.          


Anticipatory Set:  Show short clip from a movie that has a strong character study such as Alan Rickman as Snape from the Harry Potter movies.  Briefly have class describe his character from the short clip and how he works as Harry’s foil.   

Direct lesson:  Tell students that there will be a short quiz the next day on the following information:  Characters do not need to be human, but they should possess human traits.  Characters are classified as static or dynamic.  “A static character is one who does not change much in the course of a story.  A dynamic character, on the other hand, changes in some important was as a result of the story’s action” (1261). 

“The process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character is called characterization.  A writer can reveal a character is the following ways:

  1. By telling us directly what the character is like:  humble, ambitious, impetuous, easily manipulated, and so on
  2. By describing how the character looks and dresses
  3. By letting us hear the character speak
  4. By revealing the character’s private thoughts and feelings
  5. By revealing the character’s effect on other people—showing how other characters feel or behave toward the character
  6. By showing the character’s actions           

The first method of revealing a character is called direct characterization.  When a character uses this method, we do not have to figure out what a character’s personality is like—the writer tells us directly.  The other five methods of revealing a character are known as indirect characterization.  When a writer uses these methods, we have to exercise our own judgment, putting clues together to figure out what a character is like—just as we do in real life when we are getting to know someone” (1261).

Have students get into small groups and discuss type of characters and characterization in sample flash fiction literature. 

Closure:  Talk to the students about how they can make their characters come to life through characterization in their upcoming short story.   Remind them of the clip from Harry Potter and how interesting even a “minor” character can be. 

Tell them that one of the categories on the rubric will be on characterization and that the upcoming projects will help them achieve positive results.  Hand out the character traits for short story using research worksheet.  Explain.  Remind class about the short quiz the next day. 

Assessment:  Formative assessment will come from monitoring the small group discussions about characterization that follows the direct lesson.  There will be a short quiz on types of characters and the different characterization techniques. Each student will fill out a character traits handout and will use it to form their main character for their short story.  They will need to keep it in their folder and notebook as part of their ongoing journal/log for the main project.  (See journal/log checklist under Supporting Materials.)  There is also a characterization category in the rubric for the final short story using research project assessing the material from this lesson.  (See Rubric for Short Story Using Research under Supporting Materials.)    

Homework:  Have students fill out the character traits of one or more of their main characters that they are planning for your short story using the handout.  Have ready in two days when the small groups will meet to discuss using research to enhance characters.


* Information on characterization from Elements of Literature:  Sixth Course Literature of Britain Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.  1993.

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