A Vital Tip For Aspiring Authors
Fiction or non-fiction, this suggestion applies to all works of art wherein characters play a central role in the life of the book.
Creating the Appearance
Let's get straight to this: what I'm talking about is the physical appearance of the characters. We tend to focus on the "other elements" of a book that are seemingly more important - but one hardly realizes the contribution of the characters' physical appearance to the readership of the book in question. Why do I say so? Well, wouldn't you like to know what one that you're reading about looks like? What is the first thing we take in about other people? Is it not their appearance? Personally, the reader "connects" well with a character whose physical image is fully manifested, who they can visualise in their mind's eye as though they were a real person, and not a character in a manuscript. Let us consider a character by the name of John. Let's suppose that you, the author, have provided the reader with merely a sketch (or nothing whatsoever) of John (His "eyes were grey", he "had brown hair", he "was tall and lean".) Now every time that you are to mention John, I, the reader, will naturally only absently read his name, expressing no great interest in him because I cannot "see" him in my mind's eye, I don't know what he looks like. This is to the effect that I don't know him.
My point is that appearance creates personal interest.
Consider this description.
Her hair was an unusual mahogany, falling past her waist as ringlets. Petite in stature, she had light, flawless skin, and her hair looked smooth as velvet. Her blue eyes were not particularly big, but they were like shining sapphires embedded in her gorgeous face. Her lashes were long, dark and dense, fluttering as she looked around wildly, the spark of mischief glowing in her childlike eyes.
By this, in all likeliness, an interest is made to evoke in the reader, who will keep all these things in mind and integrate them to create a vivid mental picture of the character.
Creating a Distinct Appearance
An even better effect is achieved when the writer puts in effort to create a distinct appearance by incorporating striking features into a character's outward appearance.
Consider the following added to the aforementioned physical description.
1) On her frail collarbone was a birthmark.
AND / OR
2) A tiny scar, almost the color of her ivory skin, glowed on her chin.
AND / OR
3) Her left foot twitched as she tried to walk; Victoria was so used to the crutches she could hardly do without them now.
One or more distinguishing qualities reinforces the purpose of maintaining the "image" of the character in the reader's imagination.
My best wishes are with all you talented creators of art.
- 10 Tips for Writing Physical Descriptions of Your Characters — Carve Magazine
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- 11 Secrets to Writing Effective Character Description
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