Concrete Detail

Erika Hayes, Author – Write like a reader, read like a writer and edit like a beast!


I love to look at faces and observe them.  I have had some major breakthroughs in character development by studying faces.  I sketch them sometimes and it helps to describe not just a face but to devote my observation to one aspect of a face and describe the different elements individually.

This helps to find ways to describe your characters.    Today, I am doing mine on “noses”  here is a sample of faces I observed.  I did mine on the computer but I find that doing this exercise in real life is much better. Try doing this in your favorite coffee shop or cafe.  The reason this is better on actual people is that you also may hear an accent or a turn of phrase from the person you are observing that may make its way into your character’s actual description.  This EIO is something you will want to build on.  You can do this in a doctor’s office, at a little league game, in the library and as you build your personal library of descriptions you can use the list to help develop characters.  I suggest breaking up your list into facial characteristics and keeping those in separate columns.


Image Credit: Google Science Daily

Nose descriptions:

  • a sharp 90-degree angle, a long straight line that battled his angular jaw for attention
  • bumpy from top to bottom it reminded me of a well-worn road
  • flair at the bottom, wide strong
  • Dainty, upturned to a heavenward point
  • It fell from her eyebrows to a small round end
  • His nose stood off his face. It almost appeared to be trying to escape
  • her nose sloped down into a flat smile
  • A characterless nose, it lacked all distinctive attributes
  • A flat nose that lifted his cheeks
  • Glasses hid the small bridge that exploded into high nostrils
  • A perfect triangle on his face.
  • A divot divided his nose matching the dent in his chin


This is not all my observations, but as you grow your descriptions you will have many fallbacks when you need to describe your character in unique and engaging ways.  Start those facial feature list as soon as you can, work on them anytime you have a few moments because every face is unique and just waiting to have a writer give it immortality in the pages of his or her book.


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