4 ideas to compose an improved Character Portrait: browse Here

To get ready because of this week’s post, we took a glance at my records through the Cheryl Strayed retreat we went to a weeks that are few. We shared the thing I discovered right right here and right right right here and right right right here. Fortunately, I became capable of finding a few more gems—and prompts that are writing.

Today’s subject? Character portraits.

1. Character Portraits Unveil Relationship

A portrait is just a description of an individual or a combined team of individuals.

From Cheryl Strayed, but, we discovered portraits additionally expose the partnership between an individual while the writer (in memoir) or any other character (fiction).

For instance, someone might explain their dad making use of terms like “looming,” “powerful,” and “spoke with a deep sound.” These words evoke some of that fear or intimidation a child may have for his parent in addition to providing a physical description.

Someone else (their spouse, as an example) might use very different words to explain the exact same guy.

Therefore think about, does your portrait mirror the person’s relationship to your presenter?

2. Character Portraits Are About More than the Real

Cheryl read us a paragraph from the journalist about their mother—but he didn’t make use of just one description that is physical.


Alternatively, he composed, “She had been the kind of girl who had been beloved and charming by strangers, but most of us near to her couldn’t help but walk on egg shells.”

We made this instance up because i possibly couldn’t recall the precise paragraph. Nevertheless, i actually do recall the author composed about their mother’s actions, exactly exactly exactly how she made individuals feel, and exactly just what she said, while entirely avoiding explaining her physical appearance.

You don’t have actually to eradicate description that is physical. Rather, we encourage you to definitely think about the manner in which you might produce a graphic of a character in the event that you couldn’t describe their look.

3. Character Portraits Can Be Produced for Groups of individuals

Whenever Cheryl had been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in her own memoir crazy, she kept operating as a specific style of hiker. This band of hikers spoke a particular method, wore particular gear, and were all hiking for comparable reasons. To portray this group, Cheryl made a decision to combine them all into one, solitary character.

In instances where you intend to depict a particular style of individual, she stated, it is possible to decide to either combine those individuals into an individual character, I might add), or you can literally write a portrait of the group like she did (in memoir.

For instance, “The ladies of Logan Circle use Lululemon yoga pants, racer-back tank tops, and yoga mats strapped across their backs.” That’s exactly how i might explain people that are certain Logan Circle, D.C. It’s maybe not a portrait of 1 girl, but a kind of girl that i usually see there.

The fear is understood by me of stereotyping by describing teams because of this. My recommendation is to act as accurate and fair, but and also to not be afraid to lean into your character’s subjectivity.

The question that is real the way the character would see these individuals. Would she or he genuinely have a perspective that is nuanced?

4. Whenever Writing Character Portraits, Proceed With The TEMPERATURE

I wrote straight down this estimate from Cheryl:

An individual you realize well does one thing they constantly do, that’s a true point of temperature and interest, as soon as some one does one thing they never do, it is additionally a location of temperature and interest.

This means that, stick to the temperature.

I do believe these tips is especially useful in memoir. Will there be something somebody that you experienced always does? can it be in your description of them? If you don’t, it must be!

How about time an individual did one thing they never do? Why did it is done by them? Write to us when you look at the responses!


I’ve a handful of related writing encourages for you personally today:

  1. Write a portrait of somebody without explaining her or him actually.
  2. Write a portrait of a combined team or group of individuals (or sort of individual).
  3. Write a portrait of your self at your absolute best or your worst.

Select one of many writing prompts and compose for a quarter-hour. As soon as your time is up, share your writing within the remarks section. If you share, please be sure to provide feedback to your other article writers.

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