Wednesday, November 10, 2010

After Astrology - Characterization - The Physical

You have your traits, both positive and negative, plus their astrological information. Now the time comes to get physical. What sort of things do you need.

Age, height, weight, hair color, eye color are some of these things. I also must have a name for each of my major and minor characters. The walk-on people in my stories are usually given a job or a brief physical description. Like, the apple-cheeked clerk.

One problem with physical description is the way it's used. He was thirty years old, five foot eleven and a half inches tall, he weighs 180 pounds, his hair is blond and his eyes dark brown. While this gives a picture of a character, it's rather static and doesn't show the character.

A lock of blond hair flopped on his forehead. His dark eyes hardened with anger. This sort of thing gives the reader a picture and becomes an active part of building a character. The trick is to voice the description in a way that paints a picture and shows character.

Describing a character's face by using the features can bring a character to life. Her mouth formed a slash. Hands are another way to show character. Her nails, bitten to the quick, slender fingers plucked at his sleeve.

What one has to do when developing a character is to think active and not static. Long lists of physical attributes won't make a character come to life in a reader's eyes.


Yolanda said...

Great way to make description not seem like a police report!

Wendy S Marcus said...

I am not a fan of lots of description. It slows the story. I like a brief snippet and then I visualize what I think the character would look like.