For today’s Friday photo prompt, I chose photos of people that invite you to tell their story. As writers, it’s easy to get caught up in the physical details – hair color, eye color, skin color – and lose a big portion of what makes us human. Characterization isn’t just what someone looks like – but what they do – their small gestures, habits, idiosyncrasies, the way they dress, the work they do, the things they create, the way they interact with people…
Also, how does our environment shape us? Even down to the language we develop to describe our surroundings – Inuits for example have many words for “snow”. How does our environment dictate the clothing we wear – from camouflage for hiding, heavy snow gear in cold weather, light clothing in hot weather, slim black clothing for assassins. Is their clothing rough-woven or fine silk, bright coloured or drab? Is it an individual choice or does clothing differentiate castes of people or different ethnic groups? What kind of ceremonial garb might your character dress in for festivals or celebrations? How might they mark their faces or skin? Are they sea-faring people who eat fish from the sea? Desert-scavengers that eat rabbit and lizards?
Does your character’s occupation give them callouses on their hands? Make their faces sun-lined or cave-fish pale? Do they smell of sawdust or turpentine or linseed oil or hay? Have they developed a hunched back from working? Or lost a finger?
Do they have the zodiac in your world or something like it? Maybe instead of being a Taurus or Gemini, your characters can be “Moon Born” or “Sun Born”. Or they can be “Wednesday’s Children” or “Sunday’s Children”. What are traits associated of each of these? Or, perhaps eye-color or some other physical characteristic sets characters apart in your world.
I hope this post and these pictures inspire you to go deeper in your characterizations.
Share a character description in the comments – whether it’s an original character you’ve developed or one you’ve been inspired to write.
Stay Safe and Stay Healthy,