Character Description: 6 Tips from Stephen King’s Memoir

The article Character Description: 6 Tips-off from Stephen King’s Memoir saw first on The Write Practice.

When we read books, records with characters we cherish, we can learn how to write our own people by studying what items the writers included. There are so many details about your personas you were able to will be incorporated into a persona description, but which ones do there is a requirement to?

character description

Let’s look at the advice Stephen King sacrifices in his volume On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft about good description and see if applies to Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

6 Tips on Writing Exciting Character Description

When you write a story, you require your readers to believe that the characters you create are real. Well, I assume that is what you demand. I detest when a person tells me what to think.

Except for Stephen King; he can tell me what to think about writing reputations. I simply don’t want him to tell me I should be a teacher so that in case my spouse divorces me I will have a job to fall back on.

Here are the gratuities about reputation description King renders in his record, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

1. Read a lot

Good description is a learned science, one of the primary reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read and write a lot. –Stephen King

I know, right? To learn how to write, we just can’t buy diaries on writing, we have to read actual floors and write a lot. Not only a bit, but a lot.

Right now I devote more go cleaning the seven litter boxes than I do writing. Perhaps I need to read more?

That beings said, what should you read in order to grow as a scribe?

In a word, anything. Or everything.

Read in your category, and out of it.

Read generators you’re familiar with and adore, and read authors you’ve never heard of before.

Read a novel and read a short story.

Read anything you can.

By drinking from a diverse pit, you’ll ingest a wide variety of forms and approaches to the art of courage description. Every author has his or her own course of delivering physical aspects and foibles to life, and it is a matter of your advantage to read haphazardly as you study your craft.

2. Visualize your reader’s experience “Description begins with visualization of what it is you want the reader to experience. — Stephen KingTweet this

Okay, I can envisage what I crave my book to experience. Now what?

King says too little character description leaves a book bewildered and nearsighted. This would be really bad for any readers who wear glasses. He also says over description would immerse the reader in details and idols. We are supposed to use just enough description.

An author who specialise in “just enough description” is America’s preciou, Mark Twain, generator of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In this gut-wrenching moment, Huckleberry is appalled to see his father( a awful alcohol) waiting for 😛 TAGEND

” His “hairs-breadth” was long and entangled and greasy, and hung down, and you could see his eyes shining through like he was behind vines. It was all black , no gray; so was his long, mixed-up streaks. There warn’t no color in his face, where his face indicated; it was white … a tree-toad white, a fish-belly white. As for his clothes–just cloths, that was all. He had one ankle resting on t’other knee; the boot on that foot was busted, and two of his toes stuck through ….”

What a feast of physical details! Yet any attentive reader can relation this list of physical peculiarities to the character’s personality.

Twain doesn’t time exposit Pap’s whisker color–he rushes with physical descriptions that conjure the man’s backstory of privation, disheveled living, and cruelty.

These imagery crowds the reader’s knowledge with the same dread that the narrator and booster feels upon attending him. Our first impression is one of indignation, and even horror.

Great character description creates fictional characters into evocative reality. In this quotation from a captain, Pap is drawn with perfect precision, merely by his grotesque physical appearance.

If I have read a lot of narrations, I will know how much description is just enough.

3. Remember your main job

Your books did not pick up your work so that they could read lots of details about your characters. They picked up your journal so you could tell them a story.

A little person description can be useful, but ever remember to focus on your primary job: tell your books a tale. You may even is my finding that when you focus on the fib, you don’t need much courage description at all.

So while Mark Twain’s described in Huckleberry Finn’s father is dramatic and thorough, it doesn’t unfold on forever. Once this aisle wraps up, the conflict between violent father and disaffected lad begins. Twain doesn’t waste a moment more haggling over whether Pap has green eyes or brown looks, and instead gets to the problem Huck must overcome of escaping an abusive elder.

In fact, Twain only choices elements of physical characterization that are essential to the story.

Every element of Pap’s figure, from his filthy, vine-like black hair, to his fish-hued flesh, are tied to his personality mannerisms. He is ugly on the inside, and the outside appropriately pairs. If one were to write up a person profile on Pap Finn, as any high schools student might be tasked to do, they would be able to link the character’s wars, which depart from despicable to outright evil in the book’s early chapters, to his ghastly appearance.

4. Use just enough detail

Good description generally consists of a few well-chosen details that will stand for everything else. –Stephen King

What is the most important aspect of what your character looks like?

The reader doesn’t need a description of every button, ribbon, loose weave, or fuzz follicle. Include only the details that give the reader the most important aspects of the person in the story.

While characterization is an essential task and tool of a storey teller, it must be performed quickly and subtely. Most books aren’t concerned about nose color or a character’s physical look, beyond the bare essentials.

Instead, they’re worried about a great story.

This is a crucial lesson to learn as a columnist, whether you are a novelist, poet, or screenwriter. Brevity is the soul of banter, so says the Bard.

Margaret Atwood, columnist of The Handmaid’s Tale, summarizes up the role of a person quite well 😛 TAGEND

” All myth is about people, unless it’s about rabbits pretending to be people. It’s all basically personas in action, which represents personas moving through time and changes taking place, and that’s what we announce’ the plan ‘.”

One tempting mistake for brand-new novelists is to waste bountiful hours on characterization, am concerned about the little details like those I’ve already mentioned.

However, this is ultimately counterproductive.

A story is about a reputation engaging a objective. And in order to be allowed to for that seek to happen, the character must make choices that require some kind of sacrifice. This doesn’t happen in a vacuum-clean or without some sort of motion.

Veteran writers have found that by drafting their references in action — representing, inducing tough choices — they discover the most important details. Something as simple as attention hue doesn’t really matter that much … unless it weighs heavily on the difficult, sacrificial choices the character must make.

That, of course, creates us to Harry Potter.

5. Leave room for resource

You do not need to tell your reader everything about your courages. Create a alliance with your book by leaving chamber for their resource in your story.

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s. — Stephen KingTweet this

J.K. Rowling didn’t describe in great detail what Harry Potter as a baby was like. She didn’t describe Harry’s pudgy buttocks, or his hands, his insignificant fingernails, his eyebrows, or eyelashes.

We can fill in the details of what we consider a child looks like from our imagination.

She does, however, expend a good deal of era telling the reader that Harry has green seeings, because they are the same color as his mother. And for those who’ve predict the books, this is a BIG deal.

Yet other than that, Rowling doesn’t talk much about Harry as a babe. She renders the book batch more when he’s grown, but again, it isn’t terribly much 😛 TAGEND

” Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair and bright-green sees. He wore round glass held together with a lot of Sellotape because of all the times Dudley had pierced him on the nose .”

Notice that the critical details here are brief and potent. Hair and look complexion are mentioned to give the reader a emblazon attachment, but notice the most powerful detail: the Sellotape.


Because Harry does punched in the nose by some bloke named Dudley. That entails conflict, which represents the book cautions and wants to know more.

Why is this jerk punching little Harry?

Will Harry get Dudley back for being so mean?

The characterization attracts double-duty by establishing Harry as more than simply a determine of physical details. He is a real-life person because he is bullied.

I was bullied. Were you?

Odds are we can relate to Harry, even with this brief details.

Rowling pays the reader area to connect to the character. She keeps the story moving forward without bogging the book down with boring details.

And based on those few, crucial items, the reader is left to imagine the rest.

6. Write a lot

I know. This gratuity was still in firstly tip, with read a lot. I echoed it because it is important, and it is the tip I need to be reminded of. I tend to read more than I write. And how can a novelist get better at writing if they don’t write?

As Stephen King says,” You can only learn by doing .”

That, by the way, is why this blog is announced The Write Practice. Many brand-new columnists, myself included, start out believing that talent is king, and is somehow sufficient to tell a story that readers love.

It’s not.

It’s may be easy to write good character description the first time, but it is not easy to craftsmanship enormou character description that is highly relevant to the patch, legend, and posts. Whether or not the character is wearing a superhero t-shirt may be a fun detail to help you remember what he or she was like, but it can only be a potent detail if, perhaps, the character is insistent on being a hero, too–especially if it gives him or her in mortal peril.

So practice.

Practice a lot.

See failure, or even mediocrity, as a medal of professionalism. As William Faulkner formerly said,” You have to write badly in order to write well .”

Examples of Character Description

Now that we’ve dug into some principles of character description, including some masterpieces from Stephen King, let’s see whether or not J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins follow King’s suggestions in the specific characteristics of their characters.

Who is Katniss Everdeen?

The first description of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games is about her shoes 😛 TAGEND

I swing my legs off the bed and move into my hunting boots. Supple leather that has molded to my feet.

We know she hunts. Her ability to hunt is the most important detail about Katniss; it is the central theme of her story; “its what” continues her alive during the Hunger Games and in the rest of the series.

We don’t find out the color of her eyes until page eight. Collins describes Katniss by comparing her to her friend Gale 😛 TAGEND

He could be my brother. Straight black hair, olive bark, we even have the same gray eyes.

Notice which characterizing item comes first. Katniss’s ability to hunt with her bow and arrow is a crucial character detail. It personifies her skillset and her determination.

This is a great example of close-fisted, concise, and carefully-chosen characterization.

Who is Harry Potter?

Other than his eye color, what is the most important detail about Harry Potter when we first fill him in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone?

Fill in the space: The most important detail about Harry Potter is _____.

Did you say the scar on his forehead? You got it right!

As we already predict, where reference is firstly satisfy Harry, Rowling causes us three details: his mane color, and the disfigure on his forehead. Here’s where Rowling furnishes a clear image fo the notorious blemish 😛 TAGEND

Under a clump of jet-black hair over his forehead they could see a curiously shaped stroke, like a lightning bolt.

Alongside his green looks acquired from his mother, the blemish on Harry’s forehead is the most important detail about Harry’s illusion. Plot-wise, it is even more important, as it encapsulates the conflict of the entire series between Harry Potter and Voldemort.

We also find out from the designation of the first section another important detail about Harry. He is The Boy Who Lived.

Like King and Collins, Rowling skips all the unimportant details and tells us the most important features of her people immediately. We are not headache or carried with too much information.

Predict to Write

When we read books, books with people we adore, we can learn how to write by studying what details the writers included.

Like when character description pushes the book in–using these six details–and when it doesn’t.

But of course , no novelist ever gets better without writing.

So write, writer. And have fun with it!

How much character description do you think is necessary to include about the people in your narration? Let us know in specific comments.


I have a few alternatives today for your practice.

Option Number One: Write for fifteen minutes about a person who is out looking for their lost “cat-o-nine-tail”. Think about what is the most important thing about their illusion? What items will help me imagine what you want me to see?

Option Number Two: Take fifteen minutes to write a scene acquainting a reputation from a fib you are writing right now. Or re-write a scene based on Stephen King’s tips.

Option Number Three: Take fifteen minutes to re-read the first period of a diary you cherish and have read. Look for the description of the primary reputation and see how the author introduces them. What items did the author establish?

When you are done, share your story or your observations in the comments below. Please too devote feedback to your peer columnists so we can all learn and proliferate together.

xo Pamela

The article Character Description: 6 Tips-off from Stephen King’s Memoir performed first on The Write Practice. The Write Practice – The Online Writing Workbook

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