The Character’s Physical Nature

This goes beyond what your character looks like. The focus should be:

  • How does my character’s appearance make her feel?
  • How does it make others feel about her?
  • How do these feelings translate into behavior?

Imagine a few crucial scenes where appearance had a decisive effect at a key moment in her life.

Race: The fact that your character is Caucasian or African American or Latino or Asian is meaningful primarily in the way it’s shaped how he understands and navigates the world. Don’t be general: Imagine one or more pivotal scenes in his life when his race played a critical factor in whether or not he got what he wanted.

Age: How does your character’s age affect how she engages with others?

  • Is she a partying 20-something? A buckle-down 30-something? A disillusioned 40-something?
  • Is she young but wise, having already suffered but survived some terrible loss? (What was it?)
  • Is she old and sheltered? (Who has protected her?)

Health: Just because your character appears in your mind’s eye as in the pink doesn’t mean he hasn’t at some point battled death. When in his life was he most ill? Who, if anyone, took care of him? How has this affected his understanding of his physical vulnerability? Considering
that scenario alone can often open up a character in a
fascinating way.

Attire: It’s not just how the character dresses that’s important, it’s important to know how she prepares herself to beseen by others:

  • Who does she most want to impress—or hide from—with how she dresses? Her friends? A lover? A rival?
  • How much time does she spend getting dressed? Imagine it. Watch her. Allow it to unfold.

Sexual Attractiveness: Our sex lives define us in perhaps the most intimate—and thus vulnerable—ways. Imagine:

  • A time when the most beautiful woman in the room found him attractive.
  • A date when someone felt disgusted or turned off by the way he looked—and the moment when this became painfully clear. How deep and long-lasting is that wound?

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