Creating Compelling Characters (Physical description)

“…in order to create a character—think him up, animate him, stick with him for five hundred pages—a writer has to be enthusiastic about that character. Even if not everybody else is… All this is much easier if you have created original, complex, individual characters in the first place…”

Dynamic Characters: How to create personalities that keep readers captivated, Nancy Kress, now contributor to Writer’s Digest (monthly columnist to WD for many years)

Nancy advises to make the reader’s first encounter with your character memorable.

  • create a visual image, so we can picture the character in some important way
  • tell us something about the person inside
  • convey an impression of individuality, of someone unique and interesting, whom we will want to know more about.

To indicate personality, you can use a character’s appearance, her own reaction to her appearance, choice of clothes, details of the home, personal taste, and mannerisms. And you can use appearance to indicate a temporary situation, change of style, clothes when one who was poor becomes rich.


  1. Choose details that create strong visual images.
  2. Choose details that add up to an accurate, coherent impression of your character’s personality.
  3. Use word choices that further reinforce this impression.
  4. Don’t choose too many details. Quality over quantity.
  5. Use your effective details the first time we encounter your character, so we will want to keep reading.
Write on,

Published by

Beginning Write

Began writing at 12, and began compulsively reading every writing book and magazine I could get my hands on. It's been a great hobby that I've enjoyed and now wish to share. I've led two writing groups, been a part of many more, and see this blog as an extension of that.

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