Designing (and explaining) this character based on their persona

by Allison
(New York (Upstate))

Question: So I have trouble settling on the characters physical appearance. I have no issue with them when I get to their mentality. Take my main character, Availyen (y makes an 'e' sound), for example. She's from another planet then most of the other characters. Her personality is optimistic and random. When something bad happens she's the strong one who inwardly is breaking but hides it and helps the others put themselves back together before she even considers her feelings. She's always considered ditzy and unstable, never really a constant but more as a variable in most situations, so when she is the strongest or 'constant' most people are astonished when she takes up a 'reasonable and philosopher-like persona' instead of falling apart.

But for Heaven's sake, I can't stick to an appearance. First she had black hair, then she was a ginger and now she's a blonde. Any tips on how to settle on the physical appearance?

Answer: Sometimes physical traits matter, and sometimes they don't.

They matter in cases where they affect a character's self esteem and confidence, as regarding...

* relative attractiveness
* size or strength (that affects self-defense ability)
* racism, agism, or gender bias
* does a character stand out in a crowd?
* physical disabilities or abilities

Other times, it doesn't matter so much what the physical traits are, so long as they distinguish one character from another in the reader's mind.

Sometimes it helps to look at photos of crowds or strangers until you find someone who looks right for your character.

You have to decide if your alien character should stand out in a crowd (in which case, her hair could even be multi-coloured or change colour for that matter). If she doesn't, hair colour might not matter at all. You can roll the dice to decide. But do give her some traits that no other character will have. Those are the traits worth mentioning.

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