OK, so funny story, early on in the Achdus Club series and before the books were published, I was asked to describe how the characters looked. I had NO IDEA! I mean not an inkling.
Somehow, I had managed to write a whole book without spending much time thinking about the physical characteristics of my characters. What’s perhaps even more surprising, is that this wasn’t the first time I’d done that.
Yep, I write and build characters that have no outward appearances. Well, obviously they do, but somehow I forget to tell the reader just what that is.
Part of it stems from the fact that we all imagine characters differently in our minds. Even when a character is pictured on a book cover, I tend to create my own image as a story unfolds.
Which, I figure, is how the missing descriptors of characters began. I just let the characters take on the appearance that the reader has in his or her mind.
Alas that’s probably not the best way to go. Readers do want to know just what color the heroine’s hair is, whether the protagonist is tall or short, thin or stocky ... and, well, you get my drift.
So this post is definitely one that’s directed at me, personally. Figure out what your characters look like. Find ways to work descriptors into your story without breaking the narrative. Weave in important details about your characters appearance while moving the story forward. Give just enough detail to be helpful, but don’t overpower the reader. After all, the best part of reading is when the reader can “see” your story in their own mind.
YOUR HOMEWORK: Review your manuscript. Highlight any areas that describe your characters. Are they clear? Ask a trusted friend to read over just those sections and tell you what they envision. Does that sound like the characters you’ve created? If not, see if you can find a way to be “illustrate” your characters by adjusting your descriptors.
Writer, Editor and Author of the Achdus Club novels for girls.