Physical description of a character can be difficult to convey—too much will slow the pace or feel ‘list-like’, while too little will not allow readers to form a clear mental image. If a reader cannot imagine what your character looks like, they may have trouble connecting with them on a personal level, or caring about their plight.
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: round, flat, huge, tiny, muscular, fat, bony, lumpy, curvy, cute, hard, tight…
Synonyms: rump, bottom, rear end, ass, backside, trunk, bum, derriére, fanny, posterior…
Famous References from Pop Culture:
- Kim Kardashian
- Baby Got Back (Sir Mix-a-Lot)…
Clichés to Avoid: smooth as a baby’s bottom; butts so big you could show a movie on them; doing a job half-assed…
HINT: When describing any part of the body, try to use cues that show the reader more than just a physical description. Make your descriptions do double duty. Example: I sat carefully on the plastic chair. It creaked but held my weight as my rear end oozed over the sides like batter in a waffle iron. Someone groaned behind me. Then a snicker. I opened my history book and pretended to read.
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!
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Handy Man, Crafty Woman says
I’m loving these blog posts! I was wondering if you had plans to put them into a pdf that we could download?
Traci Kenworth says
That mix-up was hilarious!! ROFL.
Becca Puglisi says
As you can see, we’re nearing the END of the physical attributes thesaurus, lol. Butts aren’t something I tend to write about, either, but a thesaurus of visible physical attributes wouldn’t be complete without this entry.
A Pbuff, LOL! I was too scared to troll for butt pictures, so I settled for the video instead ;).
Susanne Drazic says
LOL, something I’ve never thought about writing about.
Martha Ramirez says
Hahhahah! LOL! Loved this! And OMG the video. Who has time to make a video like that?? Wow!!
WHAT?? No picture??
The first phrase my Turkish boyfriend ever taught me meant: “Your hands are like ice and your ass is like a watermelon.” I married him, anyway.
Stina Lindenblatt says
I’ve never given much thought to butts, either. They’re just there to sit on. Hmmm I need to rethink this one. 🙂
Francene Stanley says
Great. I’ve never given any thought to describing butts. I’ll give it a try right now. Thanks for the inspiration.