Stand-alones: Tips and Advice

Giving A Character Physical Description

Hello, reader, and welcome (back) to Writer Central!

Describing setting and places and scenes has always been hard for me.  There are so many details to think about, and you have to choose just what’s important so your reader can paint a good picture in their mind.

But that’s a blog for another time.  Today I’m talking about characters.  And not just characters.  I’m talking about describing characters.

Describing your protagonist(s) is a crucial part of the story.  It helps the reader visualize what this person (or people), who they will be reading about for the majority of the book, most likely, looks like.  And how they see the character in their mind’s eye will impact not only what the character’s personality is like to them, but also give the whole story a different feel to it.

In another blog, I’ll talk about describing a character’s personality.  But for now, I’m just going to stick to physical description.

Below I made a list of steps/tips you’ll want to follow when describing your character.

  1. Pinpoint their most distinguishing features.  Some people have a characteristic, feature, or habit that others know them for.  For example, give your character a huge green tattoo on his arm, or extremely long hair, and these things will be the main focus of your description.
  2. Consider who’s telling the description.  Is the description of this character told from another character’s perspective?  In this case, you’ll want to include the traits of the character in question that the latter character will notice first.
  3. Don’t over-describe.  Basically, don’t give every characteristic that the character. Only give the most prominent features, and give the reader an overview so they know roughly what to imagine.  Because no reader will imagine this character exactly the way you hoped.  (Sorry.  That’s just not happenin’.)
  4. Don’t describe multiple times.  Some writers end up repeating themselves with one thing over and over.  For instance, they’ll keep mentioning “his blue eyes,” and eventually we’ll get tired of hearing it, because WE ALREADY FREAKING KNOW HE HAS BLUE EYES.  But it can also depend on the storyteller, and by this I mean the character telling the story (if there is one).  If the story is being told from the perspective of, say, some guy’s significant other, than she’s likely to talk about a feature she liked about him more often than she should.  It might be part of him that she loves, or that bothers her, but whatever the case, try to avoid too much repetition.
  5. Consider what made a character the way they are.  For deeper analysis, examine each character’s background history, parents, and lifestyle to get a good idea as to how their life may have influenced the way they look.  Do they have scars?  Do they have their mother’s blonde hair?

Describing characters is more difficult for certain people than for others.  If you find description to be something you’re good at, then that’s great!  But others, myself included, wish they could just write dialogue all day.  The story’s not complete like that, though.  And if you avoid writing description just because you’re not good at it,  then your manuscript might turn out pretty badly.

Find out what’s right for you, and how you personally like to write description.  Keep all of the rules I listed above in mind when you’re writing, and I sure hope it helps.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you have a great day and that you’ll be able to implement the rules above to help you in your future days as a writer.  If you’re new to Writer Central, I update my blog every Friday, so check back weekly for updates.

If you have a question or idea, as usual, just comment below, on social media, or e-mail me and I’ll get back to you!

See you next time!


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