How to create characterisation in PSLE English Composition?

Creating effective characterisation in PSLE English Composition requires careful thought and a certain amount of creativity. It’s not just about describing a character’s physical appearance, but rather about creating a real, three-dimensional character with personality, emotions, and motivations. Understanding the various techniques of characterisation can enhance your child’s narrative, making it more appealing to the PSLE markers.

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Why Characterisation Matters in PSLE English Composition

The PSLE English exam doesn’t merely test the child’s command over the language; it also assesses their ability to express ideas creatively and cohesively. Characterisation contributes significantly to the narrative’s overall quality, helping the markers to understand the storyline and empathise with the characters. A well-characterised protagonist can take the reader on a journey, evoking empathy and interest.

Direct and Indirect Characterisation

There are two main methods of characterisation: direct and indirect. Direct characterisation involves explicitly stating the character’s traits, like “Sarah was a kind-hearted and generous girl.” On the other hand, indirect characterisation involves showing the character’s traits through their actions, dialogue, thoughts, and interactions with others.

For instance, instead of saying, “John was an empathetic friend,” you might write, “Seeing his friend in distress, John immediately dropped what he was doing and rushed to comfort him.” Indirect characterisation tends to be more engaging, as it allows readers to deduce a character’s traits based on evidence.

Creating Compelling Characters

To craft compelling characters, students should consider the character’s physical appearance, personality, background, motivations, and relationships. Each character should have their unique voice and perspective, making them distinctive and memorable. Creating a character profile or sketch can be a useful exercise in developing these details.

Building Dynamic Characters

Dynamic characters evolve over the course of the story, learning lessons and undergoing changes. For instance, a timid character might gain confidence after overcoming a challenge, or a selfish character might learn the value of generosity. Dynamic characters often make the story more interesting and relatable, as they reflect the real-life growth and change.

Using Dialogue for Characterisation

Dialogue can reveal a lot about a character. It can reflect their personality, emotions, relationships, and even their past. For example, a character who often speaks in a sarcastic tone might be viewed as cynical or witty, depending on the context. Similarly, a character who uses formal language could be seen as educated or reserved.

The Role of Setting in Characterisation

The setting can also influence characterisation. For instance, a character living in a bustling city might be more fast-paced and ambitious than one residing in a peaceful countryside. The setting can shape the characters’ experiences, perspectives, and motivations, adding another layer of complexity.

Consistency in Characterisation

Consistency is crucial in characterisation. If a character is depicted as shy and introverted, it would be jarring for them to suddenly behave extroverted without any explanation or development. Any changes in a character’s behaviour should be logical and well-explained, reflecting their growth or response to events.


Characterisation is a vital aspect of PSLE English Composition, breathing life into the story and engaging the readers. By understanding and employing these techniques, your child can craft compelling characters that bring their narratives to life. This skill not only contributes to a higher score in the PSLE English exam but also enhances their overall storytelling and creative writing abilities.

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