Writing Better Character DescriptionWriting Better Character Descriptionby Michael BjorkWe writers have a particularly tough job: bringing nonexistent people (our characters) to life in our readers’ imaginations. While it’s never easy, we usually accomplish this magic by writing each character with two qualities in mind:1) Their personality2) Their physical appearancePersonality is usually expressed through characterization, and appearance through physical description. Admittedly, that doesn't sound so complicated.But there are two things I’ll suggest today: first, that description needs to do more than just craft appearance, and second, it’s good characterization, more than anything, that’s the key to conjuring vivid characters.Character Description:Let’s take a look at the following example.1) When I entered Mr. Smith's office, he stood from his desk and smiled. He had a big nose, brown eyes, and short, blond hair. He wore a dark suit. I shook his hand.
MagicA wrought iron balcony,overgrown with jasmine frames the summer evening,pulls magic from doorways and sends it spinning into the wanton darkwith a clatter of glass beadsand raw red saxophone.Voodoo heat bleeds out low and blue,bubbles under door sillsand over window ledgesto set the city humming.The jazz blast of feet on cobblestones -a parade of tourists,washed in summer and silkshake graveyard dust from their shoesand disappear into the long, languid darkamong the palm readers and card tricksterscrouched in the curl of a summer dream.The warm slit of night beckons me,welcomes me with open armsand leads me to where you ponder enchantment -your moon slashed eyes half closed on the world,taking in its secrets between sipsof rum laced coffee and heavy cream.Your cheeks spangled like carnival glassin every hue of my desire,sweat beaded up like tiny pearls on toffee skin.Leaning in, I taste taboos from your tonguethat sear my mouth with the
JealousyI forgot how jealousylooked on you -a brooch of many colorspinned to her dressjust above the breasts,or a thin bright ribbontrailing off a straw hat.and how it smelled -too much perfume in atiny space orlemons bursting off the branchesto bloom at her feet.and how it soundedlike too much musicfor one room to hold,so it had to be sharedwith a strangerwho wore candlelightbeautifully.I forgothow it sat on your tongue -a sharp insectshedding its wings,and leaving meto dream of her.