In an article about how to build your own imaginary world for a game, a novel and so on, there is such paragraphs:

There are two main ways people notice a writer’s worldbuilding:

  1. The writer makes it too obvious they are in love with the world they created by having long informational dumps and exposition explaining the things they came up with.

  2. There are holes in your worldbuilding that lead to inconsistencies.

The first is an example of bad writing. Long exposition dumps tend to be boring for the reader. But, even worse, when characters notice or explain something in the world, you’ve probably made them break character.

What does 'break character' mean here? Wiki has a page for 'breaking character', but I don't think it fits in here.

  • 4
    I think the Wikipedia page is appropriate. Basically, the character in the imaginary world is no longer acting like a real person in that world, but is acting like the author explaining something to the reader.
    – stangdon
    Sep 29, 2022 at 12:06
  • 2
    It does fit in. If a fictional character starts to explain something about their world for the benefit of the reader, when everyone in that world would already know about it, their character is no longer quite realistic. Sep 29, 2022 at 12:11

1 Answer 1


"Breaking character" is a good metaphor or analogy for this kind of writing mistake, but it's not literally true.

By definition, only a real live human actor can break character. It's revealing to the audience that the actor is not really that character. This breaks the audience's suspension of disbelief and their immersion in the story.

If a fictional character in a written story starts saying things which are clearly in the author's voice, this is comparable to an actor breaking character and revealing their true person, and it similarly breaks the audience's immersion, but it's not the same thing.

  • The examples I found on the internet are all without article. Is there any situation that it's correct to say 'break a character' or 'break the character'?
    – Michael
    Sep 30, 2022 at 11:51
  • 1
    @Michael No. Those two phrases sound like harming the character. The expression never has an article.
    – gotube
    Sep 30, 2022 at 14:15

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