She’s Got the Look – Character Appearances

Character Creation Series

This week in the Character Creation Series, we’re going over character appearances!

When you read a lot of posts on character appearances, there is one thing you hear quite often.

Don’t have all your characters look beautiful.

This warning is understandable but many people write this advice in a way that can make you almost scared of creating an attractive character at all in fear that they will seem two-dimensional. Hopefully, this article will make you less afraid of your character’s appearance.

Where to Start:

When you are working on your character profiles, there will more than likely be a section pertaining to the appearance of your character. If you don’t know where to start with this, the basics are always a good way to go. Hair and eye color, height, weight, and ethnicity are always good. Also a basic idea of how they dress is good thing to add as well. If this is all you really need for your story, great! There are many stories that include little physical descriptions of characters but readers are still able to create them in their own mind. More often than not, with little description of the character, your reader can still create the character in their mind to look the same as what you intended.

Adding A Little Bit More:

If you want a more detailed description of your character, distinguishing marks are something to add. If your character has a certain birthmark, scar, or tattoo it has some importance to them. For example my character has a tattoo of ivy on her body, and it’s importance is that it was one of the first things she learned how to grow in her garden. In the Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs, she has the tattoo of a coyote paw print on her lower stomach, and is fitting because Mercy is a “skin walker” or really shape shifter whose animal form is of a coyote. What you write in this section is important because it would be what separates your character from everyone else in appearance. So even if you end up having a character that is attractive, or even two characters that are twins, there is something that creates a separation that makes that character their own.

A Lot of Details:

Then maybe you are the type of writer that wants every little physical detail, go for it. The shape of the face, eyes, and mouth are some of the main factors of attractiveness in a person. This can be where you make your character as realistic looking as possible. This amount of detail is the moment where if you have any How To Draw People books will come in handy. There are also million pictures on the internet to help you piece together your character’s appearance.

But what about not making them beautiful?

Well the thing is that the old saying really rings true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To you, your character is your baby and all parent’s find their children to be beautiful. So, in my honest opinion, your character’s appearance is how you see them. They could look like Brad Pitt, or Igor from Young Frankenstein and have a hump on their back. As long as they look like who they are in your mind, that’s all that matters.

How Much Detail is Going into the Piece?

This is also up to you, but like backstories these details are best made in moderation. A little snippet of detail here and there is good, but an info-dump is always a bad idea, as it stops the story entirely.


 

Don’t Forget to Check Out the Other Posts for Character Creation:

Making Character Profiles in Fiction

It’s Just A Bunch of Backstory

Character Interviews

Choosing Character Names

Character Opinions

Character Motivation

Character Relationships

Character Speech Patterns

Creating Flaws

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