Describing A Character

Some general suggestions (not rules) for writing a description.

Do's

Do…

  • ..Describe the physical features that would be visible to everyday inspection. Facial features, stature, hair color, eye color, and approximate weight and height are all great places to start. Scars and tattoos a person could see without x-ray vision are some good details to include.
  • ..Be creative. "Athletic without losing her feminine curves" appears in 99.9% of all female descriptions, much like "muscular and well over six foot" appears in 99.9% of all male descriptions. Think outside the box a little and you might really like what you've created. And chances are, it's unlikely your character is both athletic and curvy - be plausible.
  • ..Add in some flaws. "Flaws" give a character the feel of a character instead of a cookie-cut Mary Sue like all the other Mary Sues. One of the best descriptions I've seen was for a pear-shaped girl in her mid-twenties with a chubby face and too many freckles (Obvious nod to Mary goes here). She was flawed, but unique and still attractive because of who the character was. Flawed characters are realistic and generally appealing; flawless ones are typically neither. (Obviously in such cases as App5, flaws have little place. These types of characters are intended to stand out as flawless due to their appearance rating. Which leads me to my next point…)
  • ..Describe your Appearance rating accurately. Appearance 3 is not a super-model. It is not a person you look at and are incapable of suppressing wild sexy thoughts about, nor should that be the focus of the description. App 2-3 are your everyday people, with 2 being a little less inherently attractive and 3 being a little more. Try to bear this in mind when you go to type out the "she has a perfect hourglass shape" line, or "strikingly beautiful/handsome (anything here)" with a rating below 4 or 5. Are they strikingly anything? Would she have a perfect hourglass shape? Again, plausibility is key.

Don't's

Don't…

  • ..Supply precise numbers. A person would not be able to tell by looking at Jimbob that he stands 6'4" and weighs 453 lbs. They would instead be able to see that he was a tall man with a gigantic girth.
  • ..Include emotions, facial expressions or other temporary features. "Jimbob has large cheerful eyes, always smiling and laughing" belongs in a pose, not a description. Jimbob may very well be filled with rage and stomping about at the time a person is looking at him, or his eyes may be filled with tears, which would of course make them not very cheerful at all.
  • ..Add in clothing. Clothes are added to a character using the item and restring system, which allows for each and every item to be removed individually - even physically passed on to another player for their use. If say, Jimbob loaned that pretty Ghoul his size XXL sweater the last time he showed up to feed, he wouldn't still have it on him and it's inclusion in his description wouldn't be accurate.
  • ..Tell a person what they feel or experience upon looking at your character. A line like "You glance with desire across her voluptuous physique, staring at all the sexy details" is God-modding. What if the person had merely glanced at the character's face? What if she had made certain not to look below the neck? What if she was looking for something particular and searched the character only for that? What if the person looking at you is a raging homosexual man disgusted by the sight of even an App5 woman? Another example of things to avoid are emotions an onlooker experiences when looking your way. "His eyes pierce the soul, gazing harshly into your own and causing you to turn away in fear" is inapplicable as it cannot possibly apply to every single person to read the description. For one example, a Willpower 10 Anarch Brujah isn't going to look at your Mortal with the Bruiser merit and be intimidated. Basically - you cannot decide for other people how they look at your character, you can only decide the physical details of what they see when they do.
  • ..Include the word "you." This is basically an extension of the above suggestion. As a rule, one can typically avoid usage of the word "you" in a description altogether, as it only leads to God-modding.
  • ..Overdo it with the vocab. While everybody loves a new and unique way to say words like (for example) "brown" or "red", typing brown into an online thesaurus and coming up with an archaic term absolutely nobody is going to realize implies the character is a brunette can be irritating, and leaves readers with very little idea of what your description has told them. An extensive vocabulary is wonderful, but generally it sucks to need a thesaurus to decode a description before you can read it — Eloquent writing is good, scouring for the most outlandish way to phrase simple things is not. Oftentimes, most will just ignore it and just go about their business having no clue what you look like.