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: buxom, voluptuous, curvaceous, sensual, bosomy
People Likely to have an Curvy Build: confident women, celebrities
- Marilyn Monroe
- Dolly Parton
Thoughts on Curves:
With curves, attraction is in the eye of the beholder. For some, they don’t consider a woman curvy unless she’s got big boobs, a tiny waist and not a scrap of extra meat anywhere else. Others view full-figured women as ‘curvy’. The best way to show curves…
- Connie floated across the room toward our table, swaying her hips like a runway model. She might be pushing forty, but the way her yellow dress melted into her curves caused even the prettiest twenty-something to bristle and send a glare her way…
Clichés to Avoid: curves in all the right places
Twists on the Stereotypical Curvy Build:
- Curvy women always seem to be beautiful and young. What’s wrong with a middle-aged woman having strong bosom to waist to hip proportions? Or give us a woman with a beautiful body but a plain face?..
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.
Cynthia Chapman Willis says
Great post with awesome examples. It’s nice to see a discussion on curvy body types as compared to the emphasis on the ulta-thin model types. It seems to me that Marilyn Monroe is still considered a sex symbol, so that speaks volumes.
Carol Riggs says
I really enjoyed this post! Loved the examples. Great to encourage we writers to break out of the same old boring stereotypes, too. 🙂
Great post, Angela! Being on the full figure side of the coin, I liked what you had to say there: “Others view full-figured women as ‘curvy’.” 🙂
Good points made throughout; all very helpful.
Thanks, Angela. There is a lot to think about here. Breaking stereotypes almost always makes for a more interesting read.
Angela Ackerman says
I guess what I meant by confident is that there is such emphasis on women to be skinny. Therefore, many women who are comfortable with being curvy are confident in how they look and don’t fall prey to the “you must be skinny to be beautiful” train of thought. I think there are enough women out there to qualify to put this in the “likely” category, but no, certainly not all curvy women are confident and i wouldn’t want to imply that they are. Thanks for weighing in! 🙂
Laura W. says
Oh, god, the granny example. I’m dying.
I would argue that women with a curvy build aren’t necessarily “confident.” Some have had the experience of being treated as sex symbols, and feel extremely uncomfortable with it. And with all this recent focus on being thin, other “curvy” women feel that their curves mean they’re “fat.”
Another idea for an unconventional “curvy” lady might be someone who tries to hide their shape.