What is the best way to portray a person?
How do you describe a stranger? Or better yet how would you describe a loved one?
Would you describe their strengths, their passions, their positive sides?
Or would you focus on their downfalls and their weakness?
Take the person sitting next to you, or that special someone whom you love so much:
how would you begin to describe them to a stranger?
You would make a list of their general description:
• Tall, 6” 1
• Slim bone structure
• Elongate, boney legs.
• Torso slightly shorter then the length of legs
• Triangle built framed torso
• Broad back and shoulders
• Tight, built muscles in arms and legs.
• Golden brown skin, patches of white where skin is not exposed to sun.
• Short dark brown hair, almost a black, long fringe in quiff style.
• Not shaven short but cut, long enough to run fingers through.
• Greeny hazel eyes
Or would you describe them as a list of pros and cons:
• Hot tempered, easily annoyed or angered.
• Frustrated with small details
• Mulls over issues in silence, doesn’t share pressing issues.
• Acts out in rage when issues get to strenuous
• Passionate about work, hobbies and relationships.
• Disciplined in action and vocally in public and at home, altered though when enraged.
But do these descriptions actually describe a person? Or just their characteristics?
There may be many people out there who fit these descriptions.
How would these qualities distinguish that special person in your life from the rest of your community?
Would you start to describe their attitude and actions:
• Quick to determine on what he likes, doesn’t like change.
• Respectful to family
• Lovable and possesses a willingness to help
• Responsible for and affectionate towards pets
• Expresses individualism in spite of the common social standards of the time
• Acts beyond age: attitude, personality, passions and desires all of a person 50 years his senior.
• Dives fast and loves to push ability
Or is it their ambitions and objectives which sets a person apart from the rest of us:
• Dedicated to career and relationships
• Willingness to be moulded and learn from others
• Encouraged to continue working
• Stimulated by his trade/ support/ the thrill
• Clear goal strategy and how to get their
• Striving to improve technique/ability/ understanding/skills
• Assertive when assessing situations: work or home related.
• Open to suggestions from more experienced and knowledgeable elders
• Grateful to elders and admires their capability
This simple question with its many twists and turns is where all writers end up at some point when trying to write a book.
Whether the book be either fiction or Non-fiction, factual or made up. Every author battles with the question: how to describe a character?
Do you start with the external features? Or do you start with the characteristics?
Should the features match the personality, or should the personality match the face?
Do you think of the character as a already complete entity, or do you develop them over time, revealing small increments about them as the story unfolds.
It is only after thinking about your character and making lists of all the desired characteristics and personal traits you want them to posses: it is only then that you can bring your character to life through words and almost picture them in the flesh.
As the story goes...
Despite his hot temper, Kevin is incredibly sweet and is well mannered. His seductive charm is an irresistible characteristic to most women, and his cocky grin and plush lips are a wicked combination any girl would be helpless to resist. Within a relationship Kevin is adorable and appreciative, he always puts his girl first, and likes to show her off in public. Kevin expresses his affection in a number of romantic and creative ideas that often leaves the girl bewildered. Kevin is loyal and continuous to be the gracious and generous gentleman as he is in the relationship and outside.
Although Kevin’s temper is one of his major downfalls as he doesn’t deal with it rationally. One of the negatives about being a man before his time, he doesn’t possess the ability for a decent outlet for his temper. Instead of expressing his problems and issues Kevin bottles them up and prefers to suppress them till breaking point. This is when his temper is at its highest and Kevin is most vulnerable.
Kevin shows a passionate interest in classical cars and mechanics, and has been able to turn his hobby and interests into a successful apprenticeship. He is well on his way to a successful and prosperous career within this field: with intended goals set out so that in the near future he has the capability to not only work independently, but also own his own business and car dealership. Kevin’s specific interest in classical cars allows him to specify in one area of expertise, and he is drawn to the more flourishing regions that hold the greater potential to work on the era of cars that he loves so much.
Character development is everything. After all they drive the story and draw in the audience.
It is always best to model your characters on a real person: someone you know very well. Someone whom you can describe from memory, and with someone who you can just picture.
Most writers will either start by coming up with a story first, and then create and develop the characters. But more often then not a writer will create a character or characters, and will then develop a story to use them in.
Every author is different and will develop their story in different ways. The trick is to not stop writing. Keep notes about your characters. Keep notes about their surroundings. Keep looking at their relationships and personalities to continue their progress throughout the story.
More first and foremost, always be true to your character’s personality. If they’re exceptional or rotten to the core, keep them that way or you’ll lose your audience.