Introducing...The Physical Attribute Thesaurus!

If you would, please read the following: 

The woman in red approached the dancing couple and delivered a slap to her husband that almost rattled the high crystal chandeliers. 

~ and ~

The short, buxom woman walked into the room. She had curly blonde hair, a plump face and cold eyes that sparkled like diamonds. Her dress was red and matched her ruby heels. She approached the dancing couple and delivered a slap to her husband that almost rattled the high crystal chandeliers.

So...what do we have? 

Go on, it's okay. You can say it:  Totally boring description (with a cliche thrown in, too).

Describing a character's appearance is a tightrope act. Too little, and they walk the wire from one end to the other, nebulous and unremarkable, forgotten the moment they step to safely. Too much, and they become a giant, colorful blob trapped on the line, unable to move forward. Pace is stalled, and nothing is left to the reader's imagination because it's all right there in the spotlight. 

Effie, Hunger Games
Why do the above excerpts not work? In addition to them having too little or too much description, what's shown isn't compelling. It doesn't pull us in, help to shape the character, or give us clues as to who this woman in red is or what makes her unique. 

The right detail or two will characterize and help paint a picture of who a person is. Hands rubbed raw from washing dishes all afternoon in scalding water. (hardworking, a provider.) Skin, doll-smooth, layered in foundation so thick it leaves a ring at the jawline (vanity, superficial, self-absorbed). A workman's lurching walk, his faded overalls threadbare at the knees (sacrifice, poverty, pain). These details tell a story. They characterize. And most importantly, they are memorable

District 12 Workmen
The Physical Attributes Thesaurus will look at the bodies of our characters, part by part, and provide micro details that will help writers brainstorm ways to create memorable imagery for the reader to connect with. We'll provide a descriptive word list to help you convey character movement and communication, and offer ideas to get you thinking about how a particular attribute might be used to show your character's unique personality and emotions

Each Thursday or Saturday we will add to the thesaurus, and all entries can be found in the sidebar. We hope you'll enjoy this new descriptive collection!  

43 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

So awesome Angela. Because I so struggle with description.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I can't wait for this one! :D

JeffO said...

Very nice. I look forward to it.

Ava Jae said...

Fantastic! It sounds great! ^_^

Marissa Graff said...

Yay! Excited for this :)

E.J. Wesley said...

Really looking forward to this series, Angela! I love the nuance that goes into describing the physical side of characters. It's so fascinating to see what a writer chooses to spotlight, and what they don't. :-)

Beth said...

What a great idea! Looking forward to reading your posts.

Jemi Fraser said...

So awesome! I tend to be on the skimpy side of description so this is great!

Angela Ackerman said...

Becca and I are excited to tackle this aspect of description because it is so challenging. Thanks everyone for all your enthusiasm! Woot!

Charlene said...

WOOT! That's my biggest headache. Definitely looking forward to it.

Laura Pauling said...

Awesome! Looking forward to it!

Jessica S. said...

This is going to be great and very useful! Can't wait to see the first entry. :)

Ezmirelda said...

Awesome! I'll be looking forward to this new thesaurus. I loved all the previous ones.

Diane Carlisle said...

Love it! Thank you for sharing such helpful tips. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

Awesome! So looking forward to this.

Kelly Polark said...

Woot! Effie is perfect to go along with this. I could totally picture her in my head from Collins' descriptions.

Aimee Katherine said...

So looking forward to this!!! Love the Hunger Games references too.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Fantastic!

Chihuahua Zero said...

I ordered the Emotions Thesaurus. I'm eagerly waited for it.

Susanne Drazic said...

AWESOME!

Carrie Butler said...

Woohoo! I can't wait. :D

Becca Puglisi said...

Thanks for all the kind words, everyone. So glad to hear you're not sick of us yet :).

Heather said...

I'm so excited for this! Yay!!!

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

I NEED this. Thanks. Looking forward to it.
Susan at Pen and Ink

Tracy Campbell said...

Angela, I can't wait to buy your next book. Looking forward to the posts. :)

Vikki (www.the-view-outside.com) said...

Excellent ladies! :)

Xx

Jennifer said...

Has anyone told you lately how much you two seriously rock?? I have such a hard time with description so this is going to be super helpful.
I love The Emotion Thesaurus. Will you be eventually publishing The Physical Attribute Thesaurus too?

juliecatherinevigna said...

Wonderful! I'm really looking forward to another excellent writing reference tool - thank you so much! :)

kittyb78 said...

That is a perfect additions to this incredible resourceful site. :)

Kristin Lenz said...

You two just keep coming up with helpful ideas - thank you!

Traci Kenworth said...

This is going to an amazing addition to the references you've already given us!! Thank you!!

Janet Johnson said...

You guys are just awesome! Description is probably my biggest weakness (among many) in writing, so this will be super helpful. Thanks for all you guys do!

Linda A. said...

What a great gift! Thank you!

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I can't wait!! :)

Marisa Hopkins said...

yay!! Looking forward to this VERY much! :) You are just so awesome.

Charlie Holmberg said...

I don't care what the topic of your thesaurus is, I'm reading it!

Martha Ramirez said...

Ooohhh thank you! looking frwd to reading the posts!

LTM said...

Holee crap, this sounds freakin fantastic! Another must-buy--LOL! :D

You guys are the best~ <3

Amelia Loken said...

Awesome! Totally need this! :) Thanks!

Melissa Sugar said...

You continue to amaze me. I have tuned to your blog and now your book (that you for writing the book) just about every single time I need help with emotions,colors descriptions, settings etc. You have exceeded your greatness. I am delighted to find this new thesaurus. I often have trouble with description. Thanks again!

Key Walker said...

All the articles are amazing :) And it's nice to see other writers supporting describing characters. I ran into a lot of people (NaNo, and even a non-NaNo published author) who scolded me about describing my characters!

C.P. Bowyer said...

Amazing. Love what you are doing, what a service. You have a special place in God's heart and future. And in all of our hearts too!

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

Thank you!! I struggle with description, too.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...