So in the spirit of editing here's a (snipet of a) clever article I found today via twitter about character descriptions and what everything you say... or don't say, can mean for your character. Make sure to check out the author's original site for the full article!
Rock your Writing
By: L.Z. Marie
- Height: Does the character stand head and shoulders above the rest because they’re morally/socially/emotionally superior?
- Build: In Duong Thu Huong’ Paradise for the Blind, the protagonist is a sickly, frail young woman, which suits her personality and emotional state.
- Hair color: Can you imagine Scarlet O’Hara with blonde hair? I think not! How many male heroes do you know with red hair? Mmmm….
- Hair texture: Janie, in Their Eyes Were Watching God, possesses the silky textured hair of white folk—making her more white in this novel about racism and self-fulfillment.
- Eye color: The darker the iris the more mysterious or sinister the character appears. If eyes are the window to the soul, the black-eyed character is mysterious indeed. See Eye Symbolism for more in-depth information.
- Skin color: In Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things, the love interest is described with chocolate-hued skin which is ever so important to the plot and theme of the tragic novel about the Indian caste system. In the novels by Preston & Child, the FBI Pendergast is described with alabaster skin and wearing the somber dark clothes of an undertaker. Creepy, somber, unknowable, and a bit mystically weird—just like the character.
- Scars: A symbolic smack in the face! The location, size, and shape of a scar can add depth to a character, and usually represents an emotional trauma. A scar across the chest (heart) means something different than a scar on the face. Does the character keep the scar concealed or do they flaunt it? And why? Is the scar’s size in direct proportion to their inner emotional scars. Are you thinking about Harry Potter’s lightening bolt scar on his forehead? Yes? Good!
- Does an upturned nose suggest the character is stuck up or arrogant?
- Do small eyes reveal the character is narrow-minded or prejudiced?
- Does a broad forehead indicate the character is exceptionally intelligent?
- Do narrow hips foreshadow trouble giving birth?
- Do overly large hands reveal the character’s helpfulness or are they always looking for a hand out?