Time for another post about building characters in your work, and this time, I'm using one of my favorite writer's handbooks, The Writer's Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long.
From THE WRITER’S PORTABLE MENTOR, A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life by Priscilla Long
List 20 concrete words associated with this person. Clothing, foods, hobbies, occupation, favored objects.
Write a macro-portrait: quick stokes, an overall picture of the person. “A tall angular man with ginger-colored hair and a disjointed way of moving”
Use coloration judiciously: Use comparison, slow down and dwell. Use comparisons to fruits, dogs, birds, gems, stones, vegetables, horses.
Choose one part of body Language: Put the person’s habitual gestures on the page. The way the person walks, moves his or her hands, weeps, laughs, talks. Consider open and shut, looseness and tightness, defended or undefended. Consider energy, agitation and stillness.
Use pet phrases to characterize: Write one of his/her exact phrases:
Dress the person: Dress reveals character. The way people dress reveals who they are and what they think, but don’t overdue it. Choose one piece of information that dominates about the clothing.
Write for ten minutes and reflect on this person or character. What insights can you come up with?
Write a biography of the person for 10 minutes.
Compose a portrait of the person using the most telling of the attributes from each of the categories. It can be long or short, two lines or two pages.