The way a writer describes characters in a story can either bring the characters to life or make them seem flat. Finding the right words for your characters description can be a bit tricky. Especially if there is so much to convey about them.  However, you would not want to give everything away in a single paragraph. No reader enjoys hindered immersion when reading a fictional book.  This is more reason why you should learn how to describe characters in a story using these simple and appropriate techniques.

Avoid listing out a character’s features:

Writers who don’t have descriptive adeptness tend to list out the features of their characters. Some even skimp on their character description. While the former doesn’t only seem boring, and forgetful, the latter might make readers build for themselves the imagery that counters what you intend to portray.

For instance, “Chelsea was a girl with blonde hair. She was tall and had dark knuckles.”

The above character’s description looks boring. More so, it doesn’t give room for adequate visualization.

Choose details that show your character’s personality:

You need to decide the personality of your character, and weave your description around it. You might choose to focus on your character’s profession. You might also choose to describe why he does certain things the way he does them and so on.  You should however be careful not to choose so many details to lump together. Choosing a single detail to focus on is usually advisable.

For example, “She had chosen the black hijab over the red one because she perceived red to be a harbinger of evil. This was the perception of every maiden in Umutu. It doesn’t even really matter to her if she was in a different town. She was definitely not going to thrash her life precept because… ”

The above description obviously portrays a stark religious female who found herself in a different town. Readers are immediately aware that this particular character may not welcome civilization over her beliefs.

Also Read; How to Create the Perfect Antagonist for your Story

Use similes and metaphors over adjectives:

While adjective will tell what your character looks like, similes or metaphors will show your character. It will even make them step out of the book pages because of the imagery deposited in the imaginative minds of the readers.

Rather than write; “Ade was a very tall man”, you could write something like; “Ade’s feet loomed as the baobab tree in Benson’s Park”

Because the tree used is a very tall tree, your readers can begin to imagine how tall Ade really was. You don’t need to have a strong suit in descriptive writing to get this right. Employing simple similes or metaphors in your character description will go a long way in bringing your characters to life.

Describe your character through another character’s point of view:

Here, you simply need to adopt a character’s perception of another character. It should however be noted that gender has serious roles to play here. For instance, what makes a woman alluring to a man could be: hips, breasts, facial beauty, or generally the physique. While fragrance, command of respect, level of intelligence, or general masculinity could make a woman find a man attractive. Whichever gender’s point of view you choose to describe a character with, you should consider the popular perception. That way, your story seems more real.

Read Also: How to Choose the Right Diction for your Manuscript

Express your character’s emotion through action:

How people react to certain things goes a long way to show their personality. If your character is impatient, or one who is short tempered, let it reflect through actions rather than in narrative.

Rather than simply state that a character got angry, show your reader what he did to show he was angry.

With the above tips on how to describe characters in a story, you might as well discover you don’t need all the finesse to write an appealing character description for your story.

Chima Rachael J.

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