Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Writer's Tool Box: Creating Your Character's Physical Traits (Part 1)
When it comes to creating authentic physical characteristics there are many things to take into consideration. It's even important to take know the physical attributes of that character's family members, especially if they are written into the story.
My oldest son has eyes as bright and blue as the sky while the other has chocolate brown eyes. But where did those blue eyes come from when my husband and I each have brown eyes? We can thank the Swedes and the Scots for that. But it's interesting that if we both had blue eyes that having a child with brown eyes would have been impossible. That's just a little biological fact that has to do with alleles.
What Color Eyes Would Your Children Have can help determine your character's eye color while calculating heredity variations. For instance, when I tried to make a character's eyes green, I discovered that wouldn't have been possible and had to either adjust her eye color or one of her parents or grandparent's. This isn't going to be critical information to have for every story that you write, but if you are going to mention that both parent's have blue eyes (say they are Swedish immigrants) and then give the couple a green eyed child there's going to have to be some 'splainin' to do.
Artist's Guide to Human Types at DeviantArt which is a series of charts on body type, skin tone, hair type, eye color, facial characteristics, etc. This can help you get the character right from head to toe.
Click on the links below to save the charts to your computer for reference. (Click on the gray area to see image. At first look you cannot see the full images, but they are saved as the enlarged version).
Human Types 1
Human Types 2
Human Types 3
I'm sure it's no secret, but another very useful tool is image searches with Google Images or stock photo sites such as iStockPhoto. Sometimes I didn't know exactly what my character looked like, but after entering some description and browsing I found myself saying, "There you are!"
Although it isn't necessary to describe every aspect of a character's appearance, the more you know about it will help authenticate the character on the page and bring your character to life.
I hope these tools are helpful to you. Next time we'll talk more about how your character looks.
Do you have any useful tools to share for building your character's physical appearance?