Skip to content

How to Describe Memorable Characters

January 11, 2013
Image courtesy of Master isolated at

Image courtesy of Master isolated at

Have you ever tried to describe your characters only to realise that you’re writing the same thing over and over?

Or maybe none of your character descriptions really come to life.

You’re pages into your novel, or well into your short story, and you’re at the point where you need to describe the protagonist or other supporting characters. But somewhere in the description, you feel like you’ve used these features already.

Then you realise your protagonist is just as tall as the other guy, or maybe the supporting character has the same body shape as the other characters.

Now you’re asking yourself, “How come everyone in real life aren’t so similar as in my book?”

Well, truth is, many people in real life are similar. Most of us are average height, that’s why it’s called average. Many people have two hands and two feet, and wearing clothes is pretty common.

So how do you describe your characters so that they are memorable?

You describe the traits that are unique to them.

Think about it. When a friend comes to mind, or you recall that attractive woman from earlier, what are the traits that linger?

You may think about the unusually tall height, or maybe those long legs, or even that really dark skin.

Maybe the person has a nose that reminds you of a beak.

But how do you make one character stand out from the rest?

Make sure that no other character in your entire story has that feature you described.

That way, when you think about the character, and that trait comes to mind, the character maintains their uniqueness.

In my latest novel, King Larsen, I wanted the woman that my protagonist was fighting for to really stand out above everyone else. That’s why I gave her blonde hair, which is one of the rarest hair colours in the world, coming 2nd only to red. She is the only one in the entire novel that has blonde hair.

There are other traits I took advantage of, like Larsen being the only character who wears a brown cloak.

So if you find your character descriptions are getting repetitive, try only describing the traits that are unique to them and see if they become more memorable.

So what do you think about describing the unique traits of characters? Let me know in the comments. And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read The Grave Robber, this month’s trailer of my latest book, King Larsen.

Interested in receiving notifications for new articles? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter by emailing


From → Writing Tips

  1. Gwen permalink

    Check out this great blog dedicated to description:
    There are thesauri for physical attributes, character traits, common settings, and much more!

    • Thanks Gwen. It’s actually one of my favourite blogs but I haven’t been there in a while. I’ll definitely take a look again.

  2. Carrol Mohamed permalink

    Yes..but blonde hair is so mundane…I’m bored already!!! How about a tiny scar at the side of the mouth or above the left eyebrow …it defines her…when she smiles demure goes out the window and she has the most mischievous look…yes..there is beauty in our imperfections…when I think about Seal the singer..what comes to mind…the scars on his face…but each and every song that he sings is perfection..his voice resonates…at least to me ( and Heidi Klum too)!!

    • I see your point Carol. Our perfections can be beautiful, and those are definitely great traits you can use to describe characters. But this particular character does not move for the entire book, so I found it had a good fit for the situation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: