By Terry C. Misfeldt
Far too often writers forget about giving readers a better vision of their characters. What I mean is that we humans touch our faces — sources say — roughly 1,000 times each day. Do writers share any information about how their characters do that?
For instance, imagine a grizzly old man with a scraggly beard. What kind of impression does he make when he tugs on that beard or picks some scrap of food out of it? Is it gnarled and matted or neatly groomed? Gray or brown with streaks of white? Does he stroke the beard when he’s contemplating some advice he’s given or is planning some devious activity? Could you shock your reader by having him shave the beard and appear as a much younger, more vibrant member of society?
Think about the various ways people touch their faces and how you can envelop those touches into your character profiles.
What does it say if your protagonist tugs on his or her ear lobe?
Can you describe how a younger woman applies her make-up versus an older woman?
If tragedy strikes, how does your character weep and wipe away the tears of anguish?
Does your professor contemplate a question by placing their chin in their palm?
Could you divulge a clue about a criminal by whether they use left or right hand?
Take a few minutes and review your manuscript for subtle nuances you could make that bring your character closer to readers. Do you wash your hands after sneezing?