Writing Snippet: Character Descriptions

I find character descriptions one of the most difficult things to write well.  I struggle with it every time.  I’m not even sure why, but I’m just not good at describing people.  Maybe it’s because I am very shy?  Part of it I think is the eyes, and that deserves a section of it’s own because creative descriptions get awkward fast.  I’ll post a character description that I wrote below.  You don’t need to know the story to read it.

“Cloud looked up, eyes sunken back into his skull, large and terrified, as if he was focused on some unspeakable horror looming in the background, and Zack noticed for the first time how haggard he appeared. Pale skin stretched taut over hollowed cheeks, a mess of blonde hair matted down to his scalp with dirt and grease, and knobby joints where the fat had melted away. A man abused and forgotten by the same world he tried to save.”

I may post more of these.  I’ve been writing for five years, so I’m sure the ones I did several years ago are awkward as hell XD

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2 thoughts on “Writing Snippet: Character Descriptions

  1. Eyes are difficult – I also struggle with looking/gazing (not many ways you can say this.) I can’t do “her eyes followed his movements” or anything of the like because I have this weird mental image of the eyes walking behind the person like a dog. In your description above, my favorite part is, “Pale skin stretched taut over hollowed cheeks” – that to me, says a lot about the person’s physical state.

  2. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts 😀

    Yeah, people get carried away with eye descriptions, myself included XD I’ve read some weird stuff, like someone described a girl’s eyelashes as stretching out like cat claws O.o It conjured up an image of monster, but I read that description in fanfiction, so I knew the person they were describing was a beautiful girl. I read about eyes like laser beams the other day, and it made me think of a robot with laser beam eyes. I never thought about eyes following someone in the literal sense, lol. Now I’m going to have that mental image when I read it XD Oh, and then people referring to eyes as orbs. I’m torn on that. Thomas Hardy referred to eyes that way, but he was a writer from over 100 years ago, so maybe it was part of their vocabulary back then. Many people overuse it as well. With eyes I think it’s better to be less descriptive, especially if you are a beginner, because it’s very easy to get carried away and make it sound strange, awkward, or over-the-top.

    The characters in this writing snippet are imprisoned in a mad scientist’s lab, and were in solitary confinement for a few weeks because they tried to escape. So they were starved as well. It took me a really long time to write that description :$ It kept coming out really awkward.

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