Why is Character Description So Awkward?

adult beanie dark emotion
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“She drinks pints of coffee and writes little observations and ideas for stories with her best fountain pen on the linen-white pages of expensive notebooks. Sometimes, when it’s going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really just a fetish for stationery.”
― David Nicholls, One Day

Often times I can sit and write a story of 18,000 words in one day. It is a deep writing hole I often refer to as ‘The Rabbit Hole’. I go down the rabbit hole and nothing can break me from this story in my mind as it takes shape. But after the story is told and it is time to edit I notice something not quite right. What does my main character look like? He or she is so caught up in the story and able to note things around them, they forget to notice themselves.

This has become a complex and overwhelming issue in my novels. Character description kills the flow of my story. How do I throw in an eye color, or freckles, or even the joy of a good figure without killing the suspense surrounding them?

Sometimes a mirror will help in those moments when I have time to introduce the story. But often times it begins with a chase, an event, or an escape. Why then would I pause during the escape to bring to light hair color or build? I try to sneak in hints here and there and I stop to consider that it was off topic and unnecessary for the story in that moment. I’ve tried waiting until character views change to describe the primary character. That sometimes works, but more and more I am wishing to stick to single character story telling.

It looks like I might have to go back to the coffee shop for some good character work. It will be fun to make up little lives again while I learn to better describe that perfect hero or villain. Please feel free to leave any pointers. After all, half the fun of writing is getting through these times where I struggle to make sense of the world inside.





5 thoughts on “Why is Character Description So Awkward?

  1. i already have the character in my head when I start, it’s usually inspired by someone from my past or present from an encounter with them. visualising them and assigning a colour to their personality helps me develop them further, I have no formal education or training in writing and English is not even my first language but reading has helped me learn about different styles and also from writers like yourself. sharing your experience helps home my skill. thank you for this wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for that pointer. I have the character in my mind but can’t seem to get her on paper where it fits naturally. I have no formal training either. But I think I might try the color to the personality idea. I like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My everyday experience become my character and the emotions become the words. Yea, i do read a lot.. Sometimes vivid descriptions that strike me any hour, i jot down in my notepad.. Your post has wonderful words that i can learn..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I agree I always feel emotion acutely when I write. And when I read. Like Water For Chocolate was my first experience with that many years ago. I never forgot that book or experience.


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