Let’s Talk: Descriptions

Time to give your characters a face. And a body.

This is where I use visual aids again! Search terms like ‘character inspiration’, ‘portrait’ or ‘people’ on sites like Unsplash, Pexels, or even Pinterest to find some images to draw inspiration from. This will give your base layer of a character.

Layers will build from adding more and more details. Jacquelyn Eubanks offers us a list of descriptions to consider. Not all of these parts need to be mentioned, only the parts that make your character the most identifiable.

Here are some resources to help if you’re struggling to describe a specific part of your character. Have you ever considered how you would describe arms? Yeah, no, me neither. But I’m glad the resource exists.

As writers, it’s important to make representation obvious. The blog WritingWithColor has some incredible and valuable advice on injecting your stories with diversity and ensuring it’s portrayed correctly (and gives us examples of how it’s portrayed in a bunch of different genres too!). WritingQuestionsAnswered gives us a few more details we can add when writing characters of colour, disabled characters, LGBTQIA+ characters, and mentally ill characters.

I find it difficult to find the right place to describe a character. You would think ‘describe the character when they are introduced’, right? I don’t want to overload a reader with physical descriptions. Listing a character’s looks can be quite tedious for readers. In Violet, I’ve been trying to dish out little descriptions through interactions with my protagonist — I give broad strokes of the character’s colouring and height (things you notice at a quick glance), and as Ally get’s to know these characters, she goes back in detailing with things like eye colour, freckles, dimples, a tooth-chip, scars, and mannerisms.

There are so many pieces of advice out there for this topic! But if you have any tips for your writer peers, drop them in our Discord!

Kirste x

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