|Funky Ear Hair picture:|
courtesy of Wiki Commons
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: big, small, dangly, flopping, large-lobed, cauliflower (wrestler's) ear, frostbitten, pink or red, protruding, pierced, Vulcan or elfin, deaf, hairy
Things Ears Do (and other words/phrases to describe those actions)
- Hear: listen, eavesdrop, harken, overhear, catch, pick up
Key Emotions and Related Ear Gestures:
- Ears can turn pink or red when someone is embarrassed or angry. They have the ability to become more sensitive to sounds when someone is afraid. People tend to play with their ears when they're nervous or restless by pulling, twisting, scratching, rubbing or bending them.
Simile and Metaphor Help:
- I try flattening my ears, but it doesn't do any good. My head looks like a trophy cup.
- He had foggy eyes and melted candle wax ears and scars that puckered his face.
Clichés to Avoid: Dumbo ears, someone who is "all ears", a talkative person "bending" someone's ear
HINT: When describing any part of the body, try to use cues that show the reader more than just a physical description. Make your descriptions do double duty. Example:
The cats wailed and howled and caterwauled, and all during the eerie duet they were moving closer to one another with their fangs bared and their ears laid back.
Nose to nose, Socks found Old Taylor a terrifying sight with his torn ear and his fur standing out on his great black jowls. But Socks did not back down. (Socks, by Beverly Cleary)
BONUS TIP: The Colors, Textures & Shapes Thesaurus in our sidebar might help you find a fresh take on some of the descriptors listed above!