Character Descriptions

Hey Jim,

I was just wondering how you come up with your character descriptions? I’m trying to accurately describe my character, but sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly how I want them to look, you know?

Thanks,
Gerraid



 

Hi Gerraid,

All too well, I’m afraid. It can be tough figuring out what your character looks like. If you create the character from scratch in your mind, it can be tough to write that person down on paper, especially if it’s a main character description where you want to go into vivid detail. So I’ll give two pieces of advice here:

Minor Characters: Give Hair and Eye color, gender, tall/short, and maybe one or two identifying marks (Scars, facial hair etc.) This is a character that you probably aren’t going to see much, so going into great detail to describe them really isn’t necessary, or even wanted in most cases.

Major/Lead Characters: Okay, here’s where you really want to go into detail, especially if you have a specific idea about what this character looks like.  So what I try to do is take the Minor Character description (see above) and find someone who resembles your description. Study them carefully and describe that person in your text. Be careful to leave out any identifying details such as specific birthmarks, tattoos, or such… unless  the person knows your using them as a template.

Let me give you an example…

In my most recent book, one of my characters is a historical person… however there are no real pictures of her that can identify her. We don’t even know her real hair color other than the fact that people nicknamed her ‘ginger.’

Well I took that nickname and the fact that she’s from Ireland and made the assumption that she had red hair. So I’ve got a redhead, presumably a ginger, which means freckles and fairly pale skin, and from both my story and her historical description, a bit of a violent side.

So I searched for a while, but couldn’t find the right person who matched this character… until I went back and re-watched a few episodes of one of my favorite shows. That’s when I saw her… a red haired bad ass who seemed to have a perpetual scowl on her face. PERFECT!
I looked up a picture of her and then described the shape of her lips, how her hair parted, the way her eyes looked, the shape of her nose, etc. I made a few edits and a few embellishments on the way, but at the end, I had my character.

Everyone has their own way and their own style and my hat goes off to those people who can just pull full character descriptions out of the air.

Anyway, I hope this helps!


 

Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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2 thoughts on “Character Descriptions

  1. This may sound strange, but I search the internet for “hairstyles.” Women’s short blonde, Men’s long, Curly red, etc. Hundreds of pictures come up with a variety of expressions and poses. I can almost always find my character somewhere in there (with a few added details). I save the photo as a reference. Weird but it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice read. Those are all really good approaches. I just kind of wing it with my characters, but methods like these sound like they would definitely help a lot.

    Like

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