Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Semantic Differential - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge

     The semantic differential type rating scale evaluates perceptions and attitudes toward an object, person, place, concept, etc.  The subject chooses a position on a scale between two opposite adjectives.  For example, how do you feel about cats? On a scale of 1-5, where 1 is "evil" and 5 is "good" are you maybe a 2 or 3?  Where 1 is "hateful" and 5 is "lovely"? Where 1 is "disgusting" and 5 is "desirable"?

     Charles E. Osgood 's scale found 3 attitude "types" or categories that people use:  evaluation (value), potency (strength), and activity. Examples might include the opposites strong-weak (potency), dull-brilliant (evaluation) or lazy-industrious (activity).

Create a few positions and rate your character. (You can make up your own of course. These are just suggestions.)

bad/good
passive/defiant
timid/courageous
dark/bright
humble/conceited
opinionated/open-minded
lackadaisical/dynamic
gloomy/cheery
injurious/beneficial
monochromatic/colorful
cowardly/brave
irrational/reasonable

Now give the scale to someone who has read your draft.

Compare the scale answers.  Are they similar or markedly different?  Is your character perceived in an entirely different manner by the reader than what you had thought/hoped for?  Or is your depiction right on? What does that tell you about perceptions of your character?  Do you need to re-think how he is represented through dialogue and interaction?  Has the reader's answers given you any additional insights about your character?

5 comments:

  1. As you know, I have had people reading some of my stories in the past and "seeing" something far from what I meant. This is a good idea. Thanks

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    1. So true...I've had that happen as well.

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  2. Smart idea. Another reader would easily spot if you'd veered away.

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    1. I'm always looking for ways to compare what I "see" in my stories and what others "see".

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  3. This is really a good exercise Li. Would help pick up inconsistencies in our writing, especially characterisation.

    Happy Birthday!!

    Denise

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