Writers Write creates resources for writers. This post includes suggestions for a writer’s sketchbook to help you create characters.
How To Make Your Descriptions Even Better
Once upon a time I took an art class in the hope of giving my stick figures some life.
Despite the best efforts of my talented teacher, my stick figures remained rather flat, but what I remember most about those classes was her sketchbook. Pages and pages of eyes, noses, and lips. A macabre collection of features cut out of magazines and redrawn in her sure pencil hand. I decided that if artists must practise then so should writers.
A Writer’s Sketchbook
This is my writer’s version of that sketchbook. I use pictures from magazines or the internet or photographs. First I write exactly what I see, and then I try to make it more descriptive.
The result: I watched him watching me with top heavy eyes. Thick brows and lazy lids pushing down on hazel irises, rimmed in black. His lashes were too feminine for a man. There were no lines, no shadows, and no remorse.
The result: Carl examined his nose in the mirror. His face felt all tingly, but besides the red skin he looked the same. Still all wrinkly and full of pores, the pores, at least seemed cleaner. He just wished there was something he could do about the bloody bump. No amount of cream could fix that. He looked a back at the mirror, 65 years old and dating like a teenager.
The result: It has been months, but still I can’t stop staring. He is so perfect. He is so tiny, his ear a perfect miniature of his father’s. His hair is dark and fine, unimaginably soft. I run my finger along the small whorls in the peachy shell and tickle his chin. I only wish his father could have seen him.
You get the idea. I do this with complete faces and other body parts. I find pictures of necks and toes and dimpled knees. I practice. It starts as pure description, but a story always manages to sneak in.
Why don’t you give it a try and see what you come up with?
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by Mia Botha
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