There are five main methods of indirect characterization: speech, thoughts, effect, action, and looks, often abbreviated STEAL. Use this STEAL chart and reference guide in your classroom, so students may easily apply indirect characterization techniques to any short story, poem, or novel.
Characterization is the process that an author uses to reveal the personality of a character.
Direct characterization is when the narrator explicitly states the type of person a character is.
Indirect characterization is when readers make inferences about a character’s personality based on various pieces of implicit information.
Indirect characterization allows readers to form their own opinions about a character based on information other than what the narrator explicitly states. A reader’s respective insight may come from their own personal experiences, which makes the reading more engaging and memorable. Additionally, indirect characterization can also help students identify a character’s versatile personality. Showing different sides of a character may make the character feel more authentic and relatable.
S = Speech
T = Thoughts
E = Effect on others toward the character
A = Actions
L = Looks
This resource includes a graphic organizer and reference guide in PDF format.