In the excellent writer’s craft book, The Art of Character, by author David Corbett he writes, ‘describing your character kills her.’ I agree. Descriptions can suck the joy out of a reader’s experience, and reveal a writer’s limited imagination.
When describing female characters in particular, try to avoid a laundry list type of description; blonde, blue-eyed, long-legged, busty…Instead, or in addition, give some insight into who she actually is, her soul, heart, or essence.
Avoid the stereotypes. For example, “she’s attractive even without the makeup” or “stunning despite her age” or worse, “was good-looking 10 years ago” or any other worn-out, exhausted, condescending, and overused physical descriptor. If there is something about her presence that is significant to the story, or that makes her unique, then yes, please share, otherwise give your readers the gift of using their imagination.
When describing your characters consider their essence;
Sasha’s hair was as red hot as her temper. Tie the descriptor to a character attribute (temper).
Gabby’s eyes were emerald fire. That gives us an insight into her soul (passion, sexuality, enthusiasm, etc.).
Kendra’s hair was palm-oil slick, her skin celestial black, she moved across the room like a Nubian queen. This gives us insight as to color of character, attitude, and beauty.
All of those above examples create images in the reader’s imaginative mind.
When writing your character descriptions be creative, use metaphor or simile. Consider combining physical descriptors with movements and gestures, or using your characters action to reveal who they are. Be creative; give insights and essence statements so your readers can enjoy the journey of character discovery.
Post by author, writing instructor, and EPIC board Member, Mindy Halleck
We have such a variety of writers in our organization that we thought it would be fun, exciting and enlightening to have multiple blog post authors.
We will be sharing all sorts of writing-related topics!