by Jessica Farmer
(GA, United States)
How do i describe what a main character looks like when I am using first-person?
Appearance may be the least important way to characterize and is usually only useful if the appearance points to something important about the character's nature.
No one cares that a blouse is red, for example, unless it being red shows that the character is flamboyant, or suggests her propensity to anger easily.
Always avoid rattling off a list of physical attrributes. However, you might sprinkle a few bits of deccription throughout the text with some of these techniques:
- Have another character note the appearance of your POV character, as when a lover twists a strand of hair around a finger and comments on its curl, or when one character says to another, "can't you wear something other than sweat pants?"
- Have another character use a nickname, such as "Red," or "Freckles" or ask how the character got the scar across her cheek, or some other identifying characteristic.
- Have the POV character ask for an opinion, such as "I've never had a brushcut before. What do you think?"
- Or have the character make a statement, such as "The sun brought out my freckles."
- Have the character make a purchase that says something about him or her. For example, does the charcter choose jogging shoes, or polished loafers? Flip flops or 4-inch heels?
- Have the character polish his/her glasses or hunt for them, break them, etc.
Readers don’t care to learn something as mundane as that a character is a “slim, brown-eyed beauty.” They will be much more interested to learn that the character sucks in her stomach every time she sees herself reflected in a car window.
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