How to Describe a Character’s Looks Well
- Start with your character’s face shape. This is important because a person’s face gives a strong and immediate impression of their personality. Is it heart-shaped with a wide forehead and a pointed chin? Is it square with a jaw-line that could chisel granite? Which of these faces might you describe as playful and which might you describe as rugged? As you continue to describe your character, keep in mind that people definitely associate certain personality traits with certain features.
- Describe your character’s bone structure. In particular, we draw many conclusions from a person’s bone structure. High, wide cheekbones can give the impression of apple cheeks and, thus, a lingering smile. Whereas a “weak” chin is associated with passivity, a prominent chin is described as “determined” and might suggest that someone is inclined to keep their chin up. Wide-set eyes are found on most baby animals and have become associated with innocence, whereas deep-set eyes are often shadowed and can be associated with being untrustworthy or a brooding personality.
- Describe your character’s eyes. The eyes are the “windows to the soul” and should receive extra consideration. Most baby animals have large eyes and long lashes, making large-eyed or long-lashed people seem more trusting and open. Brown eyes are among the most common and are often associated with a plain, salt-of-the-earth honesty or a chocolate-brown depth and richness. Blue eyes may be thought of as innocent (baby-blue), piercing (icy-blue), or wise (gray-blue). Light-green eyes may seem trusting whereas emerald-green eyes are often thought of as exotic or catlike.
- Describe your character’s eyebrows. Since the eyebrows are so intimately involved in facial expression, they also have a huge impact in their resting state. Kristin Stewart’s straight eyebrows give her a perpetual expression of nonchalance, whereas Marilyn Monroe’s high-arching brows add to her look of slight surprise and continuous interest. If the inner half of each eyebrow slants sharply downward, it can create a mischievous look á la Christian Slater or a slight scowl á la Megan Fox. Especially low brows like those of Michael C. Hall (a.k.a. Dexter Morgan) can create a sinister appearance.
- Describe your character’s nose. The nose is extremely prominent on the face and can suggest a lot about your character’s attitude. An up-turned nose might be cute and playful like a child’s but can also veer into snobbish territory (i.e. someone who turns their nose up at you). Since noses continue to grow on a person’s face with age, a long nose can suggest an air of wisdom. A pinched nose like Nicole Kidman’s might be cute as a button but can also appear crinkled as if with distaste.