Top tips for decribing your characters

Describing characters falls into two key areas – firstly what the character actually looks like and then secondly how to actually describe your character to your reader.

Deciding what your character looks like can help inform other aspects of your story, and certain characteristics can be a key plot point. Look at the Wheel of Time’s main character, Rand al’Thor, whose red hair is a particular plot point that explains both his backstory and position in the wider story arc.

Also, consider what you think about when you meet someone for the first time. It’s unlikely you’re going to list all those physical traits above in order, you’re more likely to notice one or two that are the most striking. This is more so if you’re looking at someone who is very different to yourself – for example if you’re a tall person and meet someone who is a lot shorter than you, you might notice their height before say, their age.

Here are three top tips to remember when describing your characters:

  • It’s okay if you infodump in the first draft. When you’re meeting our characters for the first time, you might need to get more information down on the page. You can always edit later.
  • Try to limit the number of traits you should about a character at any one time.
  • Those traits you do show, consider why you’re telling the reader about these traits? What’s important about them?

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