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Saturday, October 27, 2012

How do you describe a character in her own POV?

One of the tricky challenges when writing in first person is describing the Main Character (MC). There's the old device of having MC look in a mirror, but it is ... well ... old. So how do you pull it off when you want your reader to be able to see your MC, but you're in that character's point of view?

In MAGGIE RISING, a current Work-in-Progress, I used the technique of comparison. By having Maggie describe the client she is just meeting and tossing in comparisons to herself along the way, I hope to give the reader a fair sense of Maggie's appearance.

Here are the opening lines from the manuscript of MAGGIE RISING. I'd like to hear what you think.

            “So, are you really a psychic?”

The girl at the counter looked just like so many I’d seen since hanging out my shingle last summer. I wanted to answer, Hey, look: You came here because the sign says Psychic Readings. What do you expect? Instead, I gave her my wisest, most knowing smile while sizing her up.

She was somewhat shorter than my five-feet-eight, but most women are, and she was fuller than I am, especially through her surgically augmented chest. Her blonde wasn’t natural, either, though her roots weren’t as dark as my near-black curls. Even her coloring, like mine, was more rubies-and-ivory than peaches-and-cream. The rest was easy: sorority chick; more money than brains, all of it Daddy’s; party girl looking for a thrill and probably trying to figure out whether Jason (or Fred or that guy from the fraternity mixer last night) was worth giving it all up for.

By the time a reader gets this far into the manuscript, I'm hoping she will have a pretty good idea of not only Maggie's appearance, but also what she does for a living, how she feels about it, as well as something of her voice and attitudes. The question now is: Does it work for you?

Susan Aylworth's books are available for digital download. Find them at or


  1. It definitely works for me, and thanks for showing us how effective this is. I have several characters who narrate in first person POV, so this device will come in handy.


  2. Very clever! I'll have to remember this the next time I want to describe a person's appearance!

  3. It definitely works for me! I came away with a general picture of what this character looks like, but it was revealed in a natural way. Good writing.


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