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.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero