How to Write a Character Description

In my How To Build a Character Profile post, you will already know what makes a unique and well-developed character. Now all you need is the recipe for the perfect character description. However, often character descriptions are rushed, glossed over or explored in so much depth that it bores the reader to tears. Here is how to integrate character description into your plot so that it gives enough details but flows smoothly.

In my examples below you can see that some people make the mistake of describing a character’s appearance in one big, textual chunk. This is boring and quite frankly involves no skill at all. It is much better to describe a character’s appearance within the storytelling so that the progression of the plot is always the focus; see below. 

Incorrect

Emily had raven hair and dainty cheeks. Her almond eyes contrasted with her pale skin. On her lithe body she had an inky bruise covering her left collarbone.

Correct

Gently, wisps of Emily’s raven hair fell across her dainty cheeks. Raising her almond eyes to the sky she sighed. Her lithe body, wrapped up in the smouldering, red blanket contrasted with her pale skin. Tightly, she pulled the blanket further around her shoulders, covering the inky bruise on her left collarbone. Even snuggling as tight as she possibly could inside the blanket didn’t warm the chill of the events of the previous evening.

The second description allows for the plot to march on whilst also giving the reader a visual picture of the character and her situation. I always like to keep physical description to a tidy minimum, enough to paint a sketchy outline, but not enough to paint a portrait with. After all, I believe you can enjoy a character through their actions rather than simply picturing what they look like. 

Beginning a novel? Check out more tips here.

How to Build a Character Profile

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Image sourced by Pixabay.

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