Get the Descriptors: What’s in a Look?

Love the Japanese but hate the people

How often have you come to conclusions about a character upon their first introduction purely by how they look?

Whether read in a book or displayed in some form of visual medium (Movies, Video Games, Graphic Novels, etc.), the way the character looks say quite a bit about how they will be perceived by the audience and other characters within the story.

Example:
His tawny hair was almost shaggy and unkempt, but the blue suit he wore was immaculate, not a single wrinkle to be found.  His fingers twitched nervously and he frequently reached up to his face to adjust his glasses.

When you imagine this character, what do you think of?  What is your first impression?

From the descriptor alone I know I think of a younger man or even a teenager who probably had someone help him out with his attire since he most likely doesn’t fully understand how to iron or press clothing himself.  He also seems to lack confidence as he is fidgety.

Appearance really is everything when you are trying to insight a specific response.  I’m sure most people try to shy away from assuming things based on stereotypes, but the fact of the matter is that stereotypes exist because there is a consistency there.  Since we can’t escape from these stereotypes in our society then the best thing we can do is take advantage of them to tell a story.

Even if your purpose was to fight a stereotype, you could still use the descriptors and looks that fight what you are fighting and have the character turn out to be nothing like the audience would expect.

It happens enough in our reality right?  Why not in our storytelling too?

There is an old saying that states, “First impressions are the most important ones.”  While I don’t always agree with this anecdote, I do believe it fits into what I’m talking about with you.  Whenever a character enters the scene, be it the hero or any other individual, the way they look says far more about them in those first few moments than anything they say or do.

It is important to visualize your character, and to understand them as best as possible.  That way when you start describing you can be as clear for your audience as possible as well.  Some only need a few short words to picture your character, others need very detailed words.  The more detail the better.

Either way, make sure that the impression you are giving your audience is the impression you want.

Until next week.

Grace and Peace.

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