A to Z Challenge · Camp Nanowrimo

Character Development: A is for Appearance

Character Development, A-to-Z Blogging Challenge

A is for Appearance

This is the fun part, the easy part about building a character. What do they look like? Although looks certainly aren’t everything, they’re an easy place to get started.

Why it Matters:

It’s helpful to track your character’s appearance while you’re writing, even if you don’t have it all planned out from the beginning. There’s nothing more annoying than having to stop mid-creative flow in order to scavenge back through the draft to remember what color eyes your character’s love interest had.

Example Character: Alarik

Hair color: natural, dyed, style?
White from age, balding on top, neatly trimmed to an inch or so.
Eye color
Blue-gray
Height
5’6”
Relative height: taller than / shorter than other characters?
Shorter than the love interest; taller than the MC
Weight
160 lbs or so
Body type
Slightly hunched over; pudgy but not overweight
Tattoos
Blue spiral on his left inside forearm
Scars or past injuries
Various; some lung damage, which causes him to cough
Usual clothing style (this one could be another entry entirely)
Faded gray polo, navy slacks, brown loafers
The first thing people usually notice about him/her is:
His age; he appears to be in his late eighties

What are some other things you like to consider when describing your character’s appearance?

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16 thoughts on “Character Development: A is for Appearance

  1. I like to take into consideration their walk, especially for male characters and style of dress. Even though a person changes what he/she wears everyday, his/her style of dress remains the same and hints at the personality of the character.

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  2. I think developing physical traits is a balancing act. You want to give your readers a clear mental picture of each main character, without overloading on detail. Focusing on a few details like you did, and yes, tracking them to make sure you stay consistent, is so helpful in letting the characters feel real to the reader.

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  3. I’m a slightly obsessive about outlining and planning, particularly for longer pieces and my novel(s). I have pages upon pages of details about my characters, much like your list above. I feel that this helps me understand everything about my characters, which helps with authenticity when I write. Character development like this is crucial in presenting believable characters to your readers.

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  4. I’ve had beta readers mention they weren’t quite sure what my characters looked like even though I was sure I’d described them. Turns out, I figured out what they looked like and didn’t put so much of it on the page. Definitely something that needs to be kept in mind

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  5. While I don’t currently write a lot of fiction, I do homeschool my five children and a couple of them enjoy writing fiction. One of the things I struggle with helping them learn to do is character development and keeping their characters vivid and true. I definitely appreciate this list.

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    1. Thanks! Many more letter of the alphabet to come!… I’m thinking about compiling all this into an e-book or at least a .doc for people to use. Still tinkering with the idea… everyone’s comments are helping me flesh out my own writing. Thanks for stopping by!

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