tips · writing

The tell-tale character

Profile Kari Trumbo

Do you have a “feisty red-head”? Perhaps a frumpy brunette teacher with glasses? In shorter stories these devices can convey a lot of feeling into a character in short order, but it is good? Are we denying the wonder of the great differences in human nature by relying on these devices?

I’ve met a fair share of feisty women with red hair, but there are quiet ones, too. Remember that the nerdy bookish librarian or teacher also has time for herself many evenings and weekends.

I do tend to write a minimal description of my character’s hair, eye color,…their general build. I can’t say for sure if I will continue to do that. I would run out of general character descriptions quickly. I’m not trying to convey a feeling with my descriptions, just telling what I see. In the case of Meg (To Honor and Cherish), she has always felt her hair mousy and ugly. Jax finds her brown hair like rich melted chocolate. Looks are in the eye of the beholder. I felt I had to give a few hints in order to get that feeling across.

I enjoy a character where the blonde is not the main squeeze…or mentally inept. I love reading about the quiet, non-alpha that gets the girl. Surprise me with a construction worker that doesn’t leer at every female that walks by and a firefighter that perhaps wouldn’t be perfect on the cover of a calendar. Our job, as authors, is to create an interesting and intriguing story. Part of that is surprising readers with fresh characters that keep them guessing.


TWEET THIS! To profile or not to profile your characters. That is the question.