Physical Feature Entry: Ears

One way to balance the showing and telling of physical description is to showcase a few details that really help ‘tell the story’ about who your character is and what they’ve been through up to this point. Think about what makes them different and interesting. Can a unique feature, clothing choice or way they carry themselves help to hint at their personality? Also, consider how they move their body. Using movement will naturally show a character’s physical characteristics, keep the pace flowing and help to convey their emotions.

Descriptors: big, small, dangly, flopping, large-lobed, cauliflower (wrestler’s) ear…

Things Ears Do (and other words/phrases to describe those actions):

  • Hear: listen, eavesdrop, harken, overhear, catch, pick up

Key Emotions and Related Ear Gestures: 

  • Ears can turn pink or red when someone is embarrassed or angry. They have the ability to become more sensitive to sounds when someone is afraid…

Clichés to Avoid: Dumbo ears, someone who is “all ears”, a talkative person “bending” someone’s ear

BONUS TIP: The Color, Texture, and Shape Thesaurus might help you find a fresh take on some of the descriptors listed above! 

Describe your character’s features in a way that reveals more than just a physical description. Show what he looks like while also reinforcing his personality and emotional state, thereby doing more with less.

Need concrete examples of how to describe your character in a compelling, magnetic way? Good news! This thesaurus has been integrated into our online library at One Stop For Writers. There, you can find help with metaphors and similes, as well as the best ways to describe your character using movement. The entire Physical Feature collection is cross-referenced and linked for easy navigation. If you’re interested in seeing a free sampling of the updated Physical Feature Thesaurus and our other descriptive collections, head on over and register at One Stop!


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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15 Responses to Physical Feature Entry: Ears

  1. What about things we do with our ears ?
    For example, “He pricked up his ears when he heard his name mentioned.”

  2. Hi Becca,
    Another terrific post! 😀

  3. lbdiamond says:

    Dangly ears–love it!

  4. Thanks Becca. Very helpful! 🙂

  5. Thanks Becca. Very helpful! 🙂

  6. Alicia, that’s one of the reasons we created this thesaurus. So many times, we default to the eyes, mouth, or hands to describe a character or show their state of mind. But if we do that too many times, the description starts to get stale and repetitive. Hopefully the entries in this thesaurus will give us all some ideas on how to describe in fresh new ways.

  7. Great insight for giving detail. I like the idea of ears turning red.

  8. Glad to have the feeds coming through again. This one’s difficult to do but I like your suggestions!!

  9. Hmmm… Interesting fact. I always thought that it’s the prevailing heatures of eyes to express emotions.


  10. The ear hair is…yuck. But it would definitely say something about a character, lol.

  11. I’ll be living on this blog when I come to edit my new WIPs. 😀

    Another great entry, Becca!

  12. Ear hair for me has a huge ewwwww factor, lol! Great entry!

  13. Thanks for this post. LOL, good picture.

  14. Thanks Becca. This is really helpful.

  15. JeffO says:

    I have to say, I’ve never come up with a good description for ears.

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