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Character (arts)

A character (sometimes known as a fictional character) is a person or other being in a narrative work of art (such as a novel, play, television series, or film). The character may be entirely fictional or based on a real-life person, in which case the distinction of a "fictional" versus "real" character may be made. although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. Character, particularly when enacted by an actor in the theatre or cinema, involves "the illusion of being a human person." In literature, characters guide readers through their stories, helping them to understand plots and ponder themes. Since the end of the 18th century, the phrase "in character" has been used to describe an effective impersonation by an actor. Since the 19th century, the art of creating characters, as practiced by actors or writers, has been called characterisation.

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Despite the intense descriptions of characters authors create, the film world sometimes portrays these characters in a much different light. One dramatic difference between film and book versions can be a character's age. Here's a list of ten characters who seem older than they are. Scarlet O'Hara is probably the most surprising to me. 16?!

Contributed by Sammo Lea

A list of 10 characters who could be your best friend just like that. If, of course, you're cool enough to hang with them.

Contributed by Sammo Lea

PW has issued this list of the 10 worst mothers in literature. And it seems all receive their due punishment in these works.

Contributed by Sammo Lea

How should you describe your characters? I say you shouldn't. Not unless it’s relevant, abnormal, or needed for convenience (meaning ease of reading). A little description can go a long way, especially if it's done well. Here's where descriptions are needed: Relevance: Maybe a character feels overshadowed by his older brother, so you include the bits about his brother being tall and him being short, which adds to his psychology. Maybe being small comes in handy for a certain task he has to do, which means that it actually is relevant two ways. But you'll notice the audience doesn't know what his hair or eye color is. Black, brown, auburn, hazel, who cares? As long as they get the personality right, I really couldn’t care less what his hair color is when they picture him in their heads. The hair color, for him, is not relevant. Abnormality: If a character’s hair and eyes are the same shade of bright blue, you should probably mention that, since it's abnormal. You should also mention that she’s a shape-shifting dragon, because that’s abnormal, and the audience’s visualization of her character would be incomplete without it. Convenience: I have two old men, so I differentiated between the two. One has kept in shape and the other one is a little pudgier than doctors recommend. This is so the audience doesn’t have the same old man in their heads, and it makes reading it less of a mental gymnastics course for their imaginations. It’s convenient. This could have been beard vs. clean-shaven or any other dimorphic traits, but I chose weight because it’s more relevant (remember that word?) to their personalities. And you know what? It’s enough to just imply these characteristics most of the time. Let’s take the old men for example. One of them gets up early every morning for his exercise, and the other mostly stays at home, retired from adventuring, so he’s puffing a bit whenever he runs. See how you automatically thought of a fit old man and a not-so-fit one? And I never even had to tell you how much they weigh. This brings me to the last, and possibly most important point: if you have to tell us something, tell us with a quick story or anecdote, not with statistics and dry facts.

Contributed by Taylor Seyfert

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