Just wanted to touch upon character “depth and development” a bit more today . . . give more of that proverbial food for thought.
When it comes to detailing our characters (villains included), we want to provide:
♥ enough facts and features to paint a vivid picture ♥ layers to create complexity and intensity.
We don’t, however, want to offer so many details and components that we deliver an abstract depiction, one that lends itself to an unbelievable and/or non-“seeable” person.
Consider the factors most relevant to your characters, those that make them come to life for your readers. Do we need to know every facial feature? Of course not. Just those that impart details that build on—add dimension to—the character/villain.
For example, let’s take a gander at types of:
eyes – monolid, hooded, almond-shaped, close-set …
♥ Ronald’s sad kelp-brown eyes scanned the reception area.
lips – thin, wide, full, bow-shaped …
♥ Her perpetually pouty lips drew into a tight line when she noticed the ever-irascible Detective Smith had entered the lobby.
noses – fleshy, turned-up, narrow, flat, Roman, bumpy …
♥ The intern’s ski-slope nose had an odd jagged scar running down the left side.
chins – double, pointed, long, fleshy, scarred, pimply …
♥ Unable to meet Jason’s intense crow-black eyes, the man spoke to his strong square chin.
eyebrows – S-shaped, thin, rounded, tattooed, hard-angled, soft-angled ….
♥ Roger eyed the professor’s thin plucked eyebrows and absently noted how they seemed eternally arched.
What about arms, legs, body shapes? There are so many options available!
♥ thin, slender, slim, short, flabby, zaftig, curvaceous, shapely, voluptuous, colossal, fat, skeletal, tiny, large, vast, frail, fragile …
What about the clothes and jewelry characters/villains wear . . . or don’t wear? Telling or not?
♥ Sam Evans III zipped up his Alexander McQueen satin bomber jacket and glanced at his Luminox titanium watch. His arc-shaped lips pulled into a frown.
♥ Lenny looked at his Timex watch and a loud sigh pushed past flabby lips. Anxiously, he adjusted the collar of his loud-print polyester shirt.
♥ She tossed the diamond-encrusted watch onto the corner of the handcrafted desk as her slender frame sank back into the plush contour chair.
If you have an overabundance of attractive or secretive characters, take it further. Attractive in what way? Pretty? Handsome? Comely? Secretive in what way? Reserved? Reticent? Cagey? What differentiates them?
Having edited numerous manuscripts, it seems that characters are often taken for granted by the writer. He/she knows what the they look like, but the readers don’t because the delivery is lacking. Hence my “nudge” for more selective—appropriate—word choices.
Get to know your thesaurus. It offers a wealth of alternatives to the flat and mundane. Consider those words the colors you can utilize to paint your characters alive.