Character Development Pt. 4: Looks

If you’re new to this series (welcome!), make sure to check out the first three posts: naming characters, character backstories, and character personalities. For those of you who are regular readers, welcome back! Let’s get started.

These last few weeks, I’ve been talking about more the concept-based ideas of character creation– personalities and stories that add up to create the person hidden within their shell. Today, I want to talk about the actual shell.

At this point in your life, you’ve probably realized that people are treated differently based on what they look like: sexism, racism, and all kinds of other -isms abound in today’s society alongside the discrimination that surrounds them. All of those things have a huge impact on the way characters present themselves to the world, the way they think of themselves, and the way other characters view them.

A teenage African-American girl would have a totally different experience from a white man in his early 60s. Depending on your plot or setting, she might face serious racism or sexism, struggle with her looks or body image (like many girls her age), or face thousands of other problems relating to her appearance. The man, however, might be used to getting his way and not having to deal with racism or sexism, considering the generation he would have grown up in.

Although the idea of looks being a huge part of who your character is may seem shallow, it’s actually completely necessary (as shown above). Sometimes the whole picture of the character won’t show up until you’re done with your first (or second, or third . . .) draft, just like their complete personality might not, so don’t worry if all you’ve got is a little blank holding space for a character yet to come.

Character Development Pt. 4: Looks-- Olivia Simone

Since this is the last post in this series, I’d like to thank all of you who stuck with it the whole way through, as well as those of you who may be newer to my blog and are reading this for the first time (in which case, take a moment to check out the earlier posts in the series– links are posted in the beginning of this post). As always, I’ll be posting on Friday, but until then, enjoy the warm weather while you can (hopefully, it’ll stick around for longer than a couple of days).

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