What John Steinbeck can teach us about character, both in literature and in ourselves.

Written by Cole Schafer

When John Steinbeck was still alive and read, he liked his books to possess a lot of dialogue.

In his own words…

I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks… figure out what the guy’s thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that…

In this way, a character (at least in literature) can’t be defined by handfuls of adjectives but rather through the character’s actions.

In other words, a character is built with the words that come out of his mouth and the decisions he makes in tight situations.

The character within ourselves isn’t all that different.

It’s less about how we would define ourselves and more about what we say and what we do and whether or not what we do aligns with what we say.

By Cole Schafer.

P.S. I’ve written more on John Steinbeck here, here and here.