Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Describing Characters

Ah, the wonders of camp. The sun has been shining, the birds have been singing, and I’ve been learning about caring for an impaired animal (more about that this weekend). Unfortunately, since it’s not a real camp, but Camp NaNo, these things have been happening around my normal work schedule. And the “camp” thing I’m supposed to be doing is writing – or, in my case, editing.

Spoiler Alert – it hasn’t been happening. Editing has been at a standstill.

Some of it has been lack of time and energy, but some of it has been because I keep catching up on an issue I know I need to address.

I don’t know what me characters look like.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I have clear pictures of a number of the characters, it’s just the main character, her immediate family and her significant other that I lack descriptions for. I have some theories as to why this is the case, but I know I have to just buckle down and figure out what they look like – otherwise it will be strange when I start describing other people. I’m just… really bad at describing people. Beyond skin color, hair color, eye color and some sort of distinguishing feature (like, if they walk with a limp, or have antlers growing out of their head or something). Describing the details of someone’s face, or things about them in a way that allows the reader to paint a picture of them is hard for me. Especially to do so in a subtle way.

I know I have to try it – just because I don’t pay much attention to character descriptions when I’m reading a story doesn’t mean it can’t be included (and, yes, I’m planning to spend some time in the next few days digging up books that I have and finding the character descriptions to read in order to see how other authors do it).

How do you go about describing characters?

 

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This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.

There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection!  More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.

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2 thoughts on “Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Describing Characters”

  1. Hello, Allison. I share your problem, sort of. I’ve been told by critique partners that I describe the characters well when they’re first introduced, but neglect to do so as the story progresses, resulting in “talking heads” not grounded in physical reality. That’s something I look for now when I revise. I aim for a few telling details per character per scene. It’s a challenge, because I know exactly what they look like. Happy scribbling to you.

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