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Character Descriptions

All narratives contain people engaged in some action. As a writer attempting to tell a story and reach your readers, you must describe the important figures in your story. You may see your characters clearly in your mind, but your readers are not inside your head. Most descriptions will use the techniques of description, and these techniques can help you a lot, but inspiration to create these character descriptions can come from reading good examples of writer describing characters.

The following four character descriptions are only a few examples that I hope will inspire your own descriptions of the characters in your stories. Notice the increadible detail used in these descriptions as well as the way the writers "show" what this character is like.

from Patrick O'brien's Master and Commander, pg. 13
the first description of Jack Aubrey

And on the little gild chairs at least some of the audience were following the rise with an equal intensity: there were two in the third row, on the left-hand side; and they happened to be sitting next to one another. The listener farther to the left was a man of between twenty and thirdy whose big form overflowed his seat, leaving only a streak of gild wood to be seen here and there. He was wearing his best uniform--the wide lapelled blue coat, white waistcoat, breeches and stockings of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, with the silver medal of the Nile in his buttonhole--the deep white cuff of his gold-buttoned sleeve beat the time, while his bright blue eyes, staring from what would have been a pink-and-white face if it had not been so deeply tanned, gazed fixedly at the bow of the first violin. The high note came, the pause, the resolution; and with the resolution the sailor's fist swept firmly down upon his knee. He leant back in his chair, extinguishing it entirely, sighed happily and turned towards his neighbour with a smile


from Rick Yancey's The Monstrumologist, pg. 4-5


The one who called on this night was standing just outside the back door, a gangly, skeletal figure, his shadow rising wraithlike from the glistening cobblestones. His face was hidden beneath the broad brim of his straw hat, but I could see his gnarled knuckles protruding from this frayed sleeves, and knobbly yellow ankles the size of apples below his tattered trousers. Behind the old man a broken-down nag of a horse stamped and snorted, steam rising from its quivering flanks. Behind the horse, barely visible in the mist, was the cart with its grotesque cargo, wrapped in several layers of burlap.


from Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies," pg. 46
--describing Mrs. Das


He observed her. She wore a red-and-white-checkered skirt that stopped above her knees, slip-on shoes with a square wooden heel, and a close-fitting blouse styled like a man's undershirt. The blouse was decoreated at chest-level with a calico applique in the shape of a strawbery. She was a short woman, with small hands like paws, her frosty pink finger-nails painted to match her lips, and was slightly plump in her figure. Her hair, shorn only a little longer than her husband's, was parted far to one side. She was wearing large dark brown sunglasses with a pinkish tint to them, and carried a big straw bag, almost as big as her torso, shaped like a bowl, with a water bottle poking out of it. She walked slowly, carrying some puffed rice tossed with peanuts and chile peppers in a large packet made from newspapers.


from J. K. Rowling's The Half-Blood Prince, pg 16
--describing the Minister of Magic


The Prime Minister's first, foolish thought was that Rufus Scrimgeour looked rather like an old lion. There were streaks of gray in his mane of tawny hair and his bush eyebrows; he had keen yellowish eyes behind a pair of wire-rimmed spectables and a certain rangy, loping grace even though he walked with a slight limp. There was an immediate impression of shrewdness and toughness; the Prime Minister thought he understood why the Wizarding community preferred Scrimgeour to Fudge as a leader in these dangerous times.

To dig deeper into character description, try reading this article: "11 Secrets to Writing Effective Character Descriptions."


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