Character Basics: Physical Appearance [Character Development]

We’re all unique from one another, we all look and appear differently. Yes, people have identical twins or doppelgangers hanging around in other parts of the world, but we’re all made up differently.

Our appearance ranges from different hairstyles, body size and shape, the clothes we wear, and much more. There’s a lot to think about when you’re trying to paint a picture of multiple people in your stories for your readers.

How to describe your characters' physical appearance | Character development | Creating fictional characters |

Features To Think About

  • Height and weight
  • Body type
  • Eyes/eyebrows (shape, color)
  • Hair (style, length, color)
  • Skin (looks, feels, color)
  • Face (shape, facial hair)
  • Nose/ears
  • Mouth/teeth
  • Arms/hands
  • Legs/feet
  • Distinguishing features (makeup, scars, freckles, etc.)
  • Clothing style

When creating your character, it’s good for you to know most, if not all, of these features. Of course, your readers don’t need every nitty-gritty detail. I mean, you don’t typically describe your characters’ eyebrows, do you?

No, but if you want to get the whole picture for you, then it’s something to think about when you’re sketching out your characters.

How To Describe Your Characters

1. Use figurative language

You don’t need to straight up tell your readers, “Rachel had brown hair and blue eyes.” You want your readers to be able to picture Rachel and infer for themselves what she looks like. Yes, there will be some things you can blurt out, but for the most part, you want to show, not tell.

2. Describe facial expressions

A big way to show off facial features is to describe their expressions. Did someone tell a funny joke? How do they laugh? Do they show their teeth? When they cry, does makeup run down their face? Are they an ugly crier?

3. Describe throughout the story

I’ve read books where a new character is introduced and then there’s a paragraph or two all about them. It can work, but I always found it better to show how the character looks and acts the deeper you get into the story. First impressions are fine, but we don’t need to know their looks top to bottom right away.

4. Show description through actions

It’s easy to visualize what your characters look like when they show off how they act. For example, maybe a character plays with their hair when they’re nervous. Or maybe they’re reapplying lipstick while gossiping with a friend.

5. Allow characters to comment on each other

We all have an opinion on something and so do your characters. Your main character, especially in the first person, can comment on the other characters. Maybe your protagonist likes or dislikes them, but why? Do they smell? Is their hair greasy or does it look better than theirs?

6. Show the way they move

You can tell a lot by a person and their mood at how they move. Do they slouch? Do they move slow? Do they take big steps when walking?

7. Make it important to know

You don’t need to describe every inch of your characters. Like I said before, your characters’ eyebrows aren’t really important. Unless they dye them or shave them off or something… the point is, not everything is important. You can always leave room for your readers’ imagination.

8. Less is more

Going along with the point above, you don’t need to describe everything. Not just because it may not be important, but so that your readers can infer themselves.

9. Check yourself out

A fun exercise can be to look at yourself in the mirror. Describe what you see, make different facial expressions and describe those. Look at photographs, old and new, and describe the people you see. Make up some new features if you want.

What other tips do you have for describing your characters? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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6 Ways To Practice Descriptive Writing

The words don’t always flow well when we sit down to write. Sometimes we have to start off working on a creative writing prompt, take a walk, or even just sit back and sip on our coffee for a moment.

Then we hope some sort of idea will come to us sooner rather than later.

Or if we already have the idea in our hand, but we’re not entirely how to paint that picture worth 1,000 words for our readers.

6 Ways to Practice Descriptive Writing

1. Practice different scenerios

Cooking dinner? Take in your sights and smells and even your taste later on. Describe what you’re cooking, the ingredients, how your counter looks, what’s in the sink, etc. Paint your whole kitchen based on that one meal. Mostly likely, not all that description will be needed, but the practice is fun.

2. Look up creative writing prompts

If you type “descriptive writing” into Google, you’re most likely going to get prompts for essays or anything else academic, if not elementary school level. Still, there are plenty of creative writing prompts that cater to such writing. You can also twist other writing prompts to make them more your own and cater to your needs as well.

3. Read and rewrite

Read books. Seeing different styles may help you want to try something new. Sometimes, if you think a certain scene could be better, rewrite it. No one has to see it, but it’s a good start.

4. Try a mystery box

Okay, this sounds like something you would do at school, but it helps, trust me. Have someone put items into a box without telling you what they are. Reach into the box and feel around. Write about what you feel and what you think is in the box. Maybe give your description to someone else who didn’t know what was in the box and see if they can guess what it is. This totally sounds like a great party game… am I right?

5. Take a look at other peoples houses

This one may sound weird, but take note of the decor of other houses. Go on real estate websites and look up different styles and such. See what you like and don’t like, describe them all, and change anything you want.

6. Pinterest

Pinterest is your friend. From eye and hair color to what that little plastic piece on the end of your shoelace is called, Pinterest has great info-graphics and lots of information that you thought you’d never need.

What are some ways you practice descriptive writing? Or any kind of creative writing? Let me know in the comments below!

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How To Write Characters With Unique Sensory Quirks

We all have issues. We all have quirks. It’s part of what makes us human.

Therefore, our characters should have quirks too.

How to write characters with unique sensory quirks

What exactly is a quirk?

A quirk is an unusual behavior, an out of the ordinary habit. If it was something everyone did, then it wouldn’t exactly be a “quirk.” But I’m not saying no two people can share the same quirk. We all have our likes and dislikes.

But, for the sake of descriptive writing, I’m going to stick with sensory quirks.

And I’m going to talk a lot about myself, so I won’t blame you if you decide to leave now.

What’s a sensory quirk?

I don’t even know if this is a real thing or if I made it up, but I’m going to pretend it is for the sake of this post.

A sensory quirk is just what it sounds like. A quirk that has to do with your senses. Or you could just say you have sensory issues. Because I do. Big time.


1. Chalk

A lot of other people might agree with me on this one. I don’t like the feeling of chalk. I don’t like the feeling of it when I scrap it against the pavement or wall. I don’t like how it gets underneath my fingernails.

This is something I used to love. I played with chalk a lot when I was a kid. When I started working in preschools, my appreciation for chalk shrunk. The kids would as me all the time to play chalk with them and I would agree because… Well, that’d just be mean otherwise. I’d hold the chalk in between my index finger and thumb and barely put any pressure on it when coloring.

Why? I don’t even know. There’s just something about the feeling of chalk that makes me cringe.

2. Socks

Others may be able to relate to this one as well, especially if you have young kids. The seams of the socks (or as I call it, “the line across the toes”) are awful. They bother me. I don’t have any explanation why, they just do.

And, I prefer knee socks. I look ridiculous, but I love them. I can wear ankle socks, but I pull them up as far as they can go. They stretch out and then I get holes. (I go through a lot of socks.)

They also feel too loose on me, which is why I think I pull them up so far. I don’t know why that bothers me, but it does.

3. Toothpaste

I don’t like the taste of toothpaste. It’s all gross. I like mint, but even the mint is yucky to me. But it’s something you have to do, so I suck it up.

What really bothers me is the feeling of it on my teeth. I don’t like the feeling of the brush gliding over my teeth and I don’t like the sound it makes in my head. Brushing my teeth is the worst part of my day, every day.

4. Lettuce

I’ve saved the weirdest for last. I don’t like lettuce. I’m not a huge fan of the taste, but that’s not why. I mean, lettuce doesn’t really have a taste anyway.

No, it’s because of the crunch. Yes, you read that right.

I love everything crunchy. Chips, croutons, graham crackers, regular crackers, anything. But I can’t stand the sound (or the feeling) of lettuce crunching in my mouth. Why? No idea.

In conclusion…

A sensory quirk can literally be anything. I mean, if lettuce bothers me, then you can find something ridiculous for your character.

It adds a little more depth to your character and makes them a little more real, as strange as it is.

Do you have any strange quirks? Have you given any to your characters? Let me know in the comments below!

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How To Write Believable Characters Without All 5 Senses

It’s not every day we come across a person who doesn’t have all 5 of their senses. Some people are blind, some are deaf, and some are both. Some people have anosmia (no sense of smell), ageusia (no sense of taste), or both.

I have all my 5 senses, so it’s hard to imagine having only 4 or 3 of those senses. And I’m amazed at the people who go through life without all 5 senses simply. Yes, it’s something they have to do, have to get used to and live with, but we, as human beings, tend to take everything for granted.

If someone is born without, for example, sight or hearing they don’t know how different world could be. They live in the same world but view it differently and they live their lives just like everyone else.

But if someone loses a sense or two throughout the course of their life, whether they’re a teenager or adult, whether it’s from an accident or an illness, losing that can take a toll on a person. It can be a little isolating or even depressing.

And I know all this from people I’ve met in the past, from reading memoirs, and from doing research. Even though I “know it,” that doesn’t mean I understand it. Honestly, I could never understand it, simply because I can’t imagine how it would feel like to not be able to taste anything.

That’s why it’s so important, as writers, to write believable characters.

How to write believable characters without all five senses | descriptive creative writing

Why is this important?


When you think of diversity, you tend to think of race or ethnicity, etc. It’s not often we think of a disability, whether it’s physical or mental. People who don’t have all five senses are more common than not.

Not only will you be adding diversity to your characters, but you’ll be writing your story in a whole new way. You can’t describe a telephone ringing when you’re writing a character who can’t hear. Or maybe they have hearing aids and can hear a little, but it’s still not the same.

So, how do you write a character without all 5 senses?

Not without 100% accuracy. Still, there are many ways you can research how to write it all out.

  • Read books – The library is your friend
  • Google – The Internet is a vast place
  • Interviews – Talk to people with these impairments and also to their teachers, family, and friends as well. Get the point of view of everyone.
  • Teach yourself – Research Braille, American Sign Language, etc. Get a feel for what it’s like to talk with your hands. It’ll make it easier to describe.

In conclusion…

There are many ways to learn about such a thing, just like how you research everything else you don’t know about or don’t understand.

There are some things you can never understand fully, but it doesn’t hurt to do some research and try your best.

Have you written any characters without all 5 senses? How did you go about it? Let me know in the comments below!

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How To Use The 5 Senses In Creative Writing

The 5 senses are something we all use in everyday life. We use them without realizing it, it just comes naturally to us.

When someone asks us to smell something, we know exactly how to use our nose. When someone tells us to feel something, we know how to touch and how to describe it.

Despite how easy it is to use our senses in real life, it’s sometimes difficult to show off our characters using their senses in our stories.

Sometimes it doesn’t quite fit right into the description and other times we forget to add those subtleties in.

How to use the 5 senses in creative writing

Why do we need to add the 5 senses into our writing?

Adding the senses to your writing allow your readers to be there with your characters. They’ll feel as though they’re part of the story. The details will be painted before them as it breathes life into your characters.

You can easily say, “Charlie smelled the chile and coughed.”

But it’s much better to say, “Charlie leaned over the pot and breathed in deeply through. He recoiled away, the hot spices tickling his nose and throwing him into a coughing fit.”


Should we add our 5 senses to every scene?

There is such a thing as too much information. It’s important to corporate the 5 senses into your writing as best as you can, but there are two reasons why you shouldn’t use all 5 all the time or all at once.

1. We don’t use every single sense together at once

For example, as I write this blog post:

  • I’m seeing the bright screen
  • I’m hearing the “whirring” sound inside my laptop
  • I’m hearing my fingers tap against the keys
  • I’m feeling the laptop’s warmth as it sits on my lap
  • I’m feeling the bumps and curves of the keyboard as I type

But I’m not smelling anything coming from my laptop (that wouldn’t be good) and I’m certainly not licking the keyboard.

2. Using them all the time could be overkill

For example, if I were writing this blog post in a coffee shop, I would most definitely see, hear, and feel all the above, plus:

  • I’d see people
  • I’d hear people talking
  • I’d hear the cash register, cups clinking behind the counter, blenders, coffee being made, etc.
  • I’d smell the coffee
  • I’d smell any food
  • I may smell the man sitting behind me with b.o.
  • I’d taste my own coffee and food

Thus, I would be using all five of my senses. Do I have to describe all of that in my writing? Probably not. As long as it’s relevant to the actual story and the plot continues to move forward, you should be good to go.

How do we weave the 5 senses into the story?

Think about how you would describe something. When you sit outside and hear an airplane, do you stop what you’re doing and look up at it? Is the plane so low that the roar is too loud for you to concentrate? When you look up, is it a sunny day that you have to squint your eyes, yet you still see spots?

Which do you like better?

1. “Annie heard a loud noise and looked up. There was a plane flying overhead.”
2. “Annie heard what sounded like constant thunder overhead. She looked up, shielding her eyes with one hand from the bright sun, and noticed an airplane directly above her that seemed to be going in slow motion.”

I don’t know about you, but I liked the second one better. And I didn’t even use all the senses. That only included two senses.

Short and sweet is nice, too.

I know most of my “bad” examples are short and my “good” examples are longer. However, you don’t have to put so much description in all the time.

I know I’m sort of contradicting this post, but sometimes short and sweet is a good way to go.

You could say, “Martha wrinkled her nose in disgust as she caught a whiff of something funky,” If you’re describing the place Martha is. Maybe she walked into an abandoned house and a dead body is lying around somewhere. Either way, you’re setting up the location and could possibly be moving the plot forward.

Or you could say, “Martha sniffed and then pinched her nose,” If she’s walking down the street and caught a whiff of the garbage truck heading for her. It describes her surroundings, but not necessarily driving the plot forward. Unless the garbage truck is going to have something to do with anything.

My point is, you don’t always need a whole lot, even though the 5 senses sounds like it is.

We all have a very different and unique writing style from one another. Some write long, some write short. As long as it fits you, you should be golden.

How do you typically throw in the 5 senses into your writing? Let me know in the comments below!

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What Is Descriptive Writing?

There are many different kinds of writing, descriptive writing being one of them. Pretty much everything I found on descriptive writing talked about essay writing or academic writing.

Descriptive writing is important for any kind of writing, but we’ll stick to creative writing for now.

What Is Descriptive Writing?

What is descriptive writing?

Descriptive writing is when you give a clear and vivid description of a person, place, or thing in your writing. It can be in separate paragraphs and sentences or woven into the narration. Descriptive writing is supposed to help the readers visualize everything as though they’re in the story themselves.

How can you use descriptive writing?

There are many different clever ways you can weave descriptive writing into your story.

Figurative Language

Used to show imagery, figurative language uses metaphors, similes, personification, etc. Pretty much the basics of the English language that you learned about in school. These can be used to describe people and places. Comparing and making connections from one thing to the next as well as adding a little more depth to objects (personification, for example).


It can be spewed out in blocks of paragraphs or it can be woven into the narration. The narration, in my opinion, is the way to go. Sometimes it can look like info-dumping if you go on too long with certain description. It can be tricky, but you want the description to flow nicely in between everything else.


Readers and writers alike all have something in common and that’s our five senses. For the most part, we can all see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, or have some sort of combination of those five senses. Using the five senses in our writing adds more depth to the story rather than just ink sitting on the surface of a page. It doesn’t help to use them all at once all the time, but it still adds that little extra to the story.

But we’ll touch upon that more throughout the month.

How do you add the description into your novels? Let me know in the comments below!

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