This week, Alida, Kathryn, and Robert answer a listener’s question about how to get good descriptions of your characters on the page. It’s not as simple as writing there stood Joe. He was 6′ tall with brown hair. In fact, please don’t write that. Besides dos and don’ts, we each select a description to read and discuss what makes it work.  And there’s a writing exercise you can do at your favorite cafe!

Want to know more about developing and describing your characters? Grab a copy of the Story Works Guide to Writing Characters!





How should you introduce your characters? We each bring an example showing how to use action or narrative exposition to introduce your character to your reader. Remember just like everything in writing your description should do more than just describe your character.

What we talked about:

What are our struggles with describing our characters? (1:32)

Why introducing a character visually matters! (2:35)

How to weave in character descriptions through action. (4:37)

The Coffee Shop exercise. (5:38)

What impression is your character making? (6:18)

What is your characters distinguishing trait(s)? (7:30)

Robert’s example. (9:03)

Introduce your protagonist in your first page! (13:04)

Kathryn’s example, and how you can use physical description as a hook for your plot. (14:37)

You want your description to be memorable. (18:40)

What happens when a memorable characters description gets changed? (19:25)

Alida’s example using narrative exposition instead of action. (20:33)

How to use value judgments to enhance your character descriptions. (22:15)

Your description must have deeper meaning! (23:55)

Don’t forget that every character needs a description. (25:26)

What to pay attention to as you read. (28:17)


Things we mentioned:

The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Jack Reacher 
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone 
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Join the conversation at the Story Works Writers Facebook group

Get Your FREE Guide to reVision

Join hundreds of Word Essential Writers to receive inspirational writing tips and advice.

Thanks for subscribing! Look for a confirmation email in your inbox.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This