Luckily this hasn’t happened to me in my books. I’ve been very luck in that the cover illustrator for my Achdus Club series (the very talented Dena Ackerman, thank you Dena!) has created beautiful and unique heroines for each of my novels.
Perhaps, then, and this is more likely, I like to create my own image of just who the characters are. I want to imagine what the hero looks like as he explores the abandoned cabin or the heroine as she rows across the lake.
As writers, however, it is up to us to guide the readers. Here then are some things to think about:
- What color are your character’s eyes?
- Hair? Do they even have hair?
- How about their height? Weight?
Don’t make this a laundry list of description – Joe at 6 feet, 5 inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes, he was a bit of giant – rather give some thought and “color” to the description. Have the character’s appearance unfold within the story. Perhaps this description comes from another’s character’s observation or even the character’s own observations.
* For the first time since he was a young boy, Dan wished he had a box to stand on. Instead, he had to tilt his head all the way back to get a good look at Joe who towered over him.
* Joe raised and lowered the bedroom mirror. He’d long since gotten used to the idea that no mirror would give him a full view of how he looked. If he put the mirror super high on the wall, he couldn’t see his feet and if he put it low he couldn’t see his face.
Each of these scenarios allow us to envision just how tall Joe is, but does so without being specific numbers. Also, and perhaps even more importantly, writing the descriptions this way also provide a key insight into the thoughts and feeling of your characters.
(For more on this topic see D Is for Descriptors)
Your Assignment: Go over your story and see how you describe your characters. Is there a way to make the descriptions more colorful? Will rephrasing a scene or two with descriptions allow your reader to get to know more about how the character is feeling or thinking?