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Monday, July 27, 2009

A Brown-Eyed Girl...

Let's say for the sake of argument that you have a character who matches the basic color description of over 70% of the human population: brown hair, brown eyes, and a shade of human skin tone between pale sand and chocolate brown. You might write, "Her brown hair was up in a knot and her brown eyes sparkled."

And, you know what? Your readers will be picturing a blob. Or maybe their neighbor. But not the character in your mind.

Look at the top picture. What do you see? Make a list.

- two females
- smiles
- brown hair
- one has a large pearl and silver necklace
- one has glasses
- one has a purse strap over her neck/chest
- both have dark eyes

There isn't much in the way of the unique, is there?

How would you tell the two women apart?

- one has a dimple
- one is wearing gray, the other coral maybe
- one has hair over her shoulder
- one is slightly shorter

Guess which list you should be using when you describe characters....

That's right! The differences make the characters stand out.

That doesn't mean you have to overload your character with a dimple, flame red hair, and smoky amethyst eyes, but do give them something that will make them stand out in the readers mind. Change their diction, give them a stand out necklace, allow them to have something different than the rest of the cast.

What do you do to make your characters stand out?

And a bonus cookie for anyone who can guess which of the pair is author Amy Laurens and which isn't.


  1. Excellent advice!

    Also: personally, I think it's so much better to have a character like this--there's only so many red-haired or sparkling blue eyes out there in the world. Relying on things like dimples make the story so much more refreshing.

    (PS: this is totally coming from a girl with a red-head in her WIP)

  2. Umm...if I answered it would be cheating.

    Great post!

  3. Do we get extra points for cheating? O:)

  4. Ah! You can have cookies anyways :o)

  5. Yeah, I already know who's who. Great post! I agree that our characters should have little things that set them apart.