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How do you describe a characters face well? (1 Viewer)

LivingPoetintheFlesh

Senior Member
I need some help with describing different types of faces for my novel WIP, so there is this character named Harold who has a face (like every fictional character except slenderman) but I was unsure of what to say, I wrote "rough face" but what does that mean? I am needing some help with finding out what specific words I can use to describe faces. So any ideas appreciated!
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Can you tell us more about him? Is there a reason he has a "rough face"? What type of emotions does he feel?
 

LivingPoetintheFlesh

Senior Member
Can you tell us more about him? Is there a reason he has a "rough face"? What type of emotions does he feel?
The reason he has a rough face is because he is an angry person. And that is his emotion, he is from England and is an arsonist, he wants to burn down an opera house in Lisbon Portugal because he himself and his family were rejected from singing at the place. So that is pretty much what is it about in a nutshell.
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
What's rough about it, precisely?

Is it one of those faces that's turned to leather from too many years squinting against the sun?
The sort of quick, cynical eyes that comes from a lifetime of always being on guard?
Permanent scowl?
Unusual scars?
Crooked ears? (That's a weird one, but I've used it.)
Does he have a predatory look?
Stares too long at people?
Slack-jawed and dull-eyed so people think he's an idiot?
Meth teeth?

The trick with physical descriptions as that you don't necessarily want a technical representation of what the face actually looks like. What you do want is the face as a mirror that reflects the character's situation and circumstances, and maybe a little of their past if you can squeeze that in. Less is usually more in this regard.
 

LivingPoetintheFlesh

Senior Member
What's rough about it, precisely?

Is it one of those faces that's turned to leather from too many years squinting against the sun?
The sort of quick, cynical eyes that comes from a lifetime of always being on guard?
Permanent scowl?
Unusual scars?
Crooked ears? (That's a weird one, but I've used it.)
Does he have a predatory look?
Stares too long at people?
Slack-jawed and dull-eyed so people think he's an idiot?
Meth teeth?

The trick with physical descriptions as that you don't necessarily want a technical representation of what the face actually looks like. What you do want is the face as a mirror that reflects the character's situation and circumstances, and maybe a little of their past if you can squeeze that in. Less is usually more in this regard.

Hmmm, never thought of it that way, I just wanted to paint a picture, I would like to say that he is has a predatory look.
 

notawizard

Senior Member
Hmmm, never thought of it that way, I just wanted to paint a picture, I would like to say that he is has a predatory look.
I would be okay with predatory. Actually, I'd be more okay with "predatory" than trying to actually describe him, but I also hate character descriptions so that's me. I agree with the above statement that physical appearance is less important than what it reflects and shows.
 

BornForBurning

Senior Member
"Bring forward the traitor," cried Lil, blue eyes flaring with fascistic vengeance.

Harold, head hanging low and ape-like, tied hands twitching like dying maggots, slunk into the courtyard. His face was hollowed, mummy-desiccated, grey cheeks sunken into the depths of his sallow mouth. His eyes were black hell-pits, cold and shriveled and charcoal-dead, and his tongue was yellowed and stinking with layer upon layer of encrusted camel cigarettes—but his teeth, strangely, still glittered like polished alabaster, assembled in a sharpened, predatory grin, gleaming with all the purity of virginity in the moon's ghastly luminescence. Lil, despite herself, felt a tremor of girlish fear.
 

LivingPoetintheFlesh

Senior Member
"Bring forward the traitor," cried Lil, blue eyes flaring with fascistic vengeance.

Harold, head hanging low and ape-like, tied hands twitching like dying maggots, slunk into the courtyard. His face was hollowed, mummy-desiccated, grey cheeks sunken into the depths of his sallow mouth. His eyes were black hell-pits, cold and shriveled and charcoal-dead, and his tongue was yellowed and stinking with layer upon layer of encrusted camel cigarettes—but his teeth, strangely, still glittered like polished alabaster, assembled in a sharpened, predatory grin, gleaming with all the purity of virginity in the moon's ghastly luminescence. Lil, despite herself, felt a tremor of girlish fear.

I definitely see the image of him there, nice one! But I am wondering if I could use this for my WIP? I like the words ghastly luminescence.
 

BornForBurning

Senior Member
Girlish fear
I am 90% convinced I stole it from an older, more archaic work. But in this scene, I imagine Lil as an adult. She's a ship captain, and has been through some pretty blood-freezing moments, but Harold gnaws at her on a primal level, bringing back ancient, nursery night-terrors. That's kind of the idea. Maybe it would make more sense in context. Maybe not.
But I am wondering if I could use this for my WIP?
Yeah, go ahead. But change Lil's name.
 

LivingPoetintheFlesh

Senior Member
I am 90% convinced I stole it from an older, more archaic work. But in this scene, I imagine Lil as an adult. She's a ship captain, and has been through some pretty blood-freezing moments, but Harold gnaws at her on a primal level, bringing back ancient, nursery night-terrors. That's kind of the idea. Maybe it would make more sense in context. Maybe not.

Yeah, go ahead. But change Lil's name.

Thanks Born.
 
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