Some Thoughts on Characterisation

Thoughts, that is to say, on how to write characters: what is the best approach or strategy for characterising the agents in a piece of fiction? Most of the creative writing team got together in a London pub last night, and many things were talked about; but in particular I had a very interesting exchange with Ben Markovits on this very topic. He said a number of intelligent, persuasive and penetrating things; but I’m not to be taken in by mere intelligence, persuasiveness and penetration, you know.

Actually, I’ve been giving it a lot of thought recently to this question, and trying to work out some more coherent sense of my own praxis on this. One of the prompts was reading A S Byatt’s recently Booker shortlisted novel, The Children’s Book. My first reaction was that I didn’t like it much (you can read my initial review here). Then, partly prompted by other reviews I read, but more forcefully by a letter Professor Isobel Armstrong wrote to the LRB about that very novel, I started having second thoughts. I’ve blogged some of those second thoughts here, including some gropings-towards a particular ethos of characterisation. Have a read, and tell me what you think.

Where do you stand on the question of ‘characterisation’?  [link]  [AR]


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