Describing People, Part Two : From The Neck Down

Following on from Part One, here are some thoughts and tips on things to consider from the neck down.

As before, create a list and look at each body part in isolation. It might be a good idea to have separate lists for male and female as the physical characteristics can differ so greatly. To help with this I’m going to give some ideas for each.

What are the shoulders like?

Female: Are they wide or narrow, slim or chubby, masculine, muscular or delicate?

Male: Are they broad or slim, athletic, muscular, flabby or puny?

Look at the chest. What do you see?

Female: Is she flat-chested? Does she have small breasts, nicely rounded, perky, full, heavy, obviously enhanced and fake or droopy?

Male: Is he pigeon-chested? Is he muscular, flabby, average or does he have moobs?

Moving down to the waist . . .

Female: Is the stomach flat, does it have a slight curve, is it a bit flabby, very fat or does it have a roundness that could indicate pregnancy? Is the waist well defined when you look at her straight on, slightly defined or is there no definition at all? Does it softly curve in (womanly curve) or is it more muscular/athletic?

Male: Does he have a six-pack? Does he have a flat stomach, but without the muscle definition? Is there a ‘beer belly’ or just a little paunch? Is it flabby?

Now for the hip/rear end area:

Female: Are the hips narrow, average or wide (sometimes referred to as ‘child-bearing hips’)? Are they in proportion to the rest of the torso? Now consider the rear – are the buttocks flat and boyish, gently curved or saggy cheeked? Do the buttocks stick out from the base of the spine (Jo-Lo style)? Are the buttocks firm, toned or flabby? Are they grabbable?

Male: Are the hips slim, average or broad? How do they compare with the rest of the body? What is the butt like? Does he have ‘cute buns’? Is the arse big and flabby, flat, protruding, droopy or toned?

Continuing down to the legs –

The legs, ankles and feet can be looked at as a complete package or can be split into 4/5 sections; it very much depends on just how much detail you want to use. For the sake of simplicity I’m going to group all the sections together.

Female: THIGHS – are they toned, flabby, slim or just in need of a bit of exercise to firm around the edges? Can you see any cellulite? KNEES – are they knobbly or fairly flat? Are there any scars visible (perhaps from childhood scrapes)? CALVES – is there much muscle tone? Are they shapely? Are they over-muscled, indicating regular exercise or are they wobbly and mis-shapen? ANKLES – are they slim and attractive or thick like small tree trunks? Do they have a defined shape? FEET – are they small, average or long? Are they slim or wide? Are they fat and overflowing the shoes? Are the toenails neatly trimmed? Are they painted?

Male: THIGHS – are they muscular or over-muscled? Are they skinny or fat?  Do they need toning? KNEES – are they knobbly or smooth? Do they bear evidence of childhood falls and scrapes? Are there any scars from sports-related injuries or operations? Do they disappear under rolls of flab? CALVES – are they toned or too muscular? Are they fat and shapeless? Are they slim? ANKLES – are they skinny and weak or strong? Are they puffy with fluid or chubby? FEET – are they average, small, large or over-large? Are they like small boats? Are they flat and cumbersome?

Finally, let’s take a look at body shape as a whole.

Female: Use these pictures below to help you identify the overall shape of your female character.

Male: The male body shape is much easier to identify as they fall into only 3 main categories. The picture below helps.

Use some of the tips from the first post in this series to embellish on the features you want to include and as before, keep revisiting your list to add descriptive words as you think of them. By the time this series ends, you’ll have a broad information source to design your characters with.

Other posts in this series:

Describing People Part One: Faces

Describing People Part Three: Gestures, Expressions & Mannerisms


4 thoughts on “Describing People, Part Two : From The Neck Down

  1. Pingback: Memorable Writing | Katherine Harms, Editor

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