If we review the etymology of characterize, we will discover that the origin of this verb is found in charaktērízein, a Greek word that refers to the designation of something through a characteristic sign. The term came to medieval Latin as characterizare before arriving in our language.
The action of characterizing consists of establishing the particularities or attributes of something or someone. This allows achieving a differentiation between what is characterized and the rest.
For example: “Honesty should characterize all political leaders”, “I think the tournament will be characterized by parity: there is no great candidate”, “There were several scientists who, in the nineteenth century, helped to characterize the geography of the region ”.
The idea of characterizing is used frequently in fiction. Characterizing a character means establishing his qualities and conditions.
The characterization stage of the characters is one of the most important in the process of writing a story, since according to our efficiency we will know how to correctly present our creatures and readers will be able to feel identified with them and even predict their actions.
A technique that many storytellers often use is the development of cards in which all the characteristics of the characters that inhabit their stories are detailed. Throughout the writing, these cards can be useful to work more precisely on the plot of the stories.
Among the data that writers usually include in these cards are the date and place of birth, tastes, personality, obsessions and any other details that do to the way they want to show their characters. It should be mentioned that all these data are not always directly reflected in the works, but they serve to achieve greater consistency.
In the case of actors, this characterization implies a representation that is also carried out through costumes, makeup and other physical changes.
Suppose that a slightly overweight actor must characterize a boxer. To play the character, you will first have to regularly go to a gym to exercise. This way you can achieve a physical state similar to that of a fighter. He will also have to take boxing classes to know how to move and throw blows when the shooting of the combat scenes arrives.
A young woman, to play an old woman, will have to characterize herself with special makeup and a wig. Something similar should be done by those actors who give life to monsters, aliens and other creatures with a different appearance than the usual human being.
Often times, the work of the actors is not considered as a real effort, as the result of months and years of preparation to bring a character to life in the most convincing way possible. Many people believe that “we can all act,” and this leads to the multitude of mediocre works that we come across in the media.
However, true actors place the greatest importance on the job of characterizing the characters they are assigned, and this can be seen in a myriad of nuances ranging from small facial expressions to the way of walking, passing through body gestures, the posture and inflections in the voice.
A well-characterized character not only shines when he speaks, but also when he is silently listening to others, and even when he is in the background: if we think about reality, we are always the same, with our customs and hobbies, both when we are chatting with someone like when we watch TV on the couch; bad actors, however, usually don’t stay in character when they stop having lines.