The Perfect Character: Looks Aren’t Everything

Happy Thursday everyone! It’s crazy how quick my last few weeks of high school seem to be flying by!!!

Today we’re going to discuss the characters appearance, even though it’s not the most important thing about your character (hence the title).

My friend and I talk about this quite frequently… Everyone in books these days seem to look identical. It’s the ones that look different and stand out that get noticed.

The most cliche appearance is usually something along the lines of:

“My hair is long, soft, and holds a golden bronze sheen. My eyes are deep ocean blue with small hints of green around the edges. Overall I’m a plain looking girl.”

First of all, you can’t have your character describe themselves like that and call themselves plain. It’s very irritating.

It’s irritating to me because your character could be so much more right off the bat. And hey, maybe in the writer’s defense their character really looks like that in their head. But giving your character more depth in their appearance makes them so much more real to the reader.

“My hair is long and genuinely soft on good hair days. On others, my bronzed curls bounce up a good two inches into a small ball of frizz.”

These sentences still allude to the fact that the character has beautiful hair, but it’s not perfect all the time. (Because whose hair is perfect all the time?)

The hair example is only one of many. There’s a lot of smaller details that you can think about. Freckles? Glasses? A birthmark?

Also, I don’t know about you, but when I’m reading a book and there’s a two paragraph spread on one character’s appearance I skip right over it.

So, keep it short and sweet and spread it out over time. Your reader doesn’t need to know every single detail about your character in the first chapter. But, and take it from me, make a physical list of your character’s attributes. It’s very easy to forget them and accidentally change them in your novel.

A character’s personality is a very important aspect in writing, because it holds the most important plot development. Appearance usually reflects personality, so don’t be afraid to use other methods to get their personality across.

“She walked into class two minutes after the final bell rang, her backpack swinging freely from one shoulder, unzipped. Her clothes were disheveled, and her hair was in about 10,000 places.”

So while looks aren’t everything, also consider the role appearance plays into the overall feeling of your novel. Create unique ways to portray the appearance of your character that will contribute to their personality. And finally, please please please do not use the cliche female appearance that I demonstrated before.

 

Happy Writing!

-Kate

 

 

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