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Post Reply I am terrible at describing a character's appearance
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Posted 3/10/18 , edited 3/11/18
When it comes to describing what a character looks like far as appearances go, I can't do it for the life of me. The way I see the characters in my head is hard to explain in words. I don't want to simply say "ugly", "average", or "pretty" because I want to go into some detail. I want to use the right words and make the character sound like they look. But it is a challenge because I don't what to say. The same applies when I create a character background for the character.

What should I do to get better?



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Posted 3/10/18 , edited 3/11/18
In the end a picture is worth a thousand words.

Without actually looking at beauty, describing it in words can only go so far, but people who actually have the ability to understand a writers point of view gives them a more meaningful experience.


Her long flowing hair glistening in the morning light, she runs her fingers through it, black as night her soft features and pale skin stay hidden. Always wearing the same Down jacket she waits every day...... For what I don't seem to know. Obvious of her slender figure she doesn't mind the harsh winter wind. A sudden gust revealing her face and her jaded green eyes; she quickly fights her hair back over her face. For someone so concerned about hiding her appearance, not being noticed is the last thing on her mind. It would be a shame to hide such a lovely face.


You can really have a lot more fun with a character in terms of writing. The key is to give the reader a clear picture they can create on their own. It won't tell you everything, but it will begin to create that scene you can play out in your head.

You cant really do much except improve your vocabulary. to really describe a character you need to get away from simple explanations. Create a scene or a scenario.

Find something that adds to their character, it can be an outfit, a trinket, a scar, a style, it can be anything

What I need to tell you as well. Actually take my advice, improve your vocabulary. You can't simply improve from doing the same thing you have been doing. go find some words that will fit your characters, and start combining them.

Reading is your best friend right now, so find something you can sit down and read. I think you are keeping yourself stuck for a reason. If you are clueless, then you will be clueless for the rest of your life until you actually do something about it.

I draw my characters because Art is the only way someone is going to get the full effect.

Now do me a favor. Look up the word draw, and you will see just how much more we can use that word for. Look up any word and you will see more than what you know now. The English language is a beautiful thing.

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Posted 3/10/18 , edited 3/11/18


Thank you very much for commenting.

So, just improve my vocabulary and read(or rather listen to) books?
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18
Having more ways of expressing things is always great.

I'll add that you don't have to describe very much at all really. With three or four bits of information up front, the reader will imagine the rest. Throw in additional information as you go, being careful not to contradict yourself or make unexplained changes (don't jump from long to short hair without somewhere mentioning a haircut or image change in the vicinity). Too much physical description without ongoing story movement gets dull.

Find some writers that you think describe characters well, and just copy their style until you get comfortable.

You don't have to aim for, "She has long brown hair, but average looks she doesn't put much effort into."

You can wrap it in other story motion or thoughts. "She curled her dry brown hair in her fingers, looking with mixed disgust and longing at the beauty magazines by the register."
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

qualeshia3 wrote:



Thank you very much for commenting.

So, just improve my vocabulary and read(or rather listen to) books?


If you cant get a grasp of finding the right words, you need to read or listen to someone who does

I read this almost every day. All from the letter V something can be created to last forever as a piece we learn from


Much can be learned given ones own views, but finding something that suits you will have a lasting effect. You just need to find what you are truly looking for
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18
Remember that you aren't just telling the reader how a character looks, you are telling them how to feel about it. You could describe black hair 1000 different ways and evoke different emotions each time. So, I think the first step is to get a clear picture of what you are trying to say in your mind. It isn't just about whether someone is attractive or not, think about who the character is and branch out from there (also, think about how your perspective character is experiencing the looks of this other character and thinking about this character).

That said, I'd suggest actually writing something. Think about a character and describe them in a couple paragraphs, without simply telling me that they are pretty or ugly.
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

sundin13 wrote:

Remember that you aren't just telling the reader how a character looks, you are telling them how to feel about it. You could describe black hair 1000 different ways and evoke different emotions each time. So, I think the first step is to get a clear picture of what you are trying to say in your mind. It isn't just about whether someone is attractive or not, think about who the character is and branch out from there (also, think about how your perspective character is experiencing the looks of this other character and thinking about this character).

That said, I'd suggest actually writing something. Think about a character and describe them in a couple paragraphs, without simply telling me that they are pretty or ugly.




So, you want me to show what the characters look like in the paragraphs?
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

Humms wrote:


qualeshia3 wrote:



Thank you very much for commenting.

So, just improve my vocabulary and read(or rather listen to) books?


If you cant get a grasp of finding the right words, you need to read or listen to someone who does

I read this almost every day. All from the letter V something can be created to last forever as a piece we learn from


Much can be learned given ones own views, but finding something that suits you will have a lasting effect. You just need to find what you are truly looking for




Thank you.
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

qualeshia3 wrote:


sundin13 wrote:

Remember that you aren't just telling the reader how a character looks, you are telling them how to feel about it. You could describe black hair 1000 different ways and evoke different emotions each time. So, I think the first step is to get a clear picture of what you are trying to say in your mind. It isn't just about whether someone is attractive or not, think about who the character is and branch out from there (also, think about how your perspective character is experiencing the looks of this other character and thinking about this character).

That said, I'd suggest actually writing something. Think about a character and describe them in a couple paragraphs, without simply telling me that they are pretty or ugly.




So, you want me to show what the characters look like in the paragraphs?


Yeah, just describe a character as you would in one of your stories but do it without outright telling me what to think of it (meaning, don't tell me that they are pretty or ugly). I think that would make it a lot easier to help say where you can go to improve. And remember, don't just focus on physical appearance, focus on their character and how that character should make people feel.
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

sundin13 wrote:


qualeshia3 wrote:


sundin13 wrote:

Remember that you aren't just telling the reader how a character looks, you are telling them how to feel about it. You could describe black hair 1000 different ways and evoke different emotions each time. So, I think the first step is to get a clear picture of what you are trying to say in your mind. It isn't just about whether someone is attractive or not, think about who the character is and branch out from there (also, think about how your perspective character is experiencing the looks of this other character and thinking about this character).

That said, I'd suggest actually writing something. Think about a character and describe them in a couple paragraphs, without simply telling me that they are pretty or ugly.




So, you want me to show what the characters look like in the paragraphs?


Yeah, just describe a character as you would in one of your stories but do it without outright telling me what to think of it (meaning, don't tell me that they are pretty or ugly). I think that would make it a lot easier to help say where you can go to improve. And remember, don't just focus on physical appearance, focus on their character and how that character should make people feel.


I was thinking about faking it till I make it. But I don't mind showing if I was good at such at thing.
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18
This thread reminded me of this article about Flaubert's Madame Bovary. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/teaching-madame-bovary

From the article:

Flaubert tells us little about Emma when we first meet her, in her father’s kitchen. She’s quiet, demure, domestic. Flaubert tells us what she does, but not what she thinks, or even how she looks. Instead, he describes what’s around her: “The parasol, of dove-gray iridescent silk, with the sun shining through it, cast moving glimmers of sun over the white skin of her face. She was smiling beneath it in the mild warmth; and they could hear the drops of water, one by one, falling on the taut moiré.” Through a literary sleight of hand, Flaubert confers beauty by transference, creating an aura of subtly erotic loveliness around Emma. He makes us imagine her beauty.
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

qualeshia3 wrote:

I was thinking about faking it till I make it. But I don't mind showing if I was good at such at thing.


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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18




Wait. I'm sorry! Don't be sad!
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

qualeshia3 wrote:





Wait. I'm sorry! Don't be sad!


Heh, you do you, but it will be more difficult to address your shortcomings if you don't address them head on!
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Posted 3/11/18 , edited 3/11/18

sundin13 wrote:


qualeshia3 wrote:





Wait. I'm sorry! Don't be sad!


Heh, you do you, but it will be more difficult to address your shortcomings if you don't address them head on!



Yeah, that is true. I guess I will have to brush up on my grammar and vocabulary so it will make showing in writing better.

I also don't want to be cliche either.
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