Character Description: 6 Tips from Stephen King’s Memoir


Creating memorable characters is an essential part of any successful story. Stephen King is one of the most celebrated authors in history and his memoir, On Writing, offers a wealth of insight and advice on how to craft characters that will leave a lasting impression on readers. In this blog post, we’ll look at six tips from Stephen King’s memoir that can help you create vivid and compelling character descriptions.

Tip #1: Consider Your Character’s Backstory

The most effective character descriptions are based on more than just physical details. Stephen King advises that it is important to consider the character’s backstory and the events that have shaped them. By doing this, you can give your character more depth and make them more relatable to readers. Think about the challenges your character has faced, their biggest accomplishments, and the relationships they have with other people. All of these elements can help to make your character come alive on the page.

Tip #2: Focus on Small Details

When it comes to describing your characters, Stephen King suggests that it’s important to focus on the small details. He recommends using specific words to describe your character’s physical features, such as their hair color, eye color, and skin tone. Additionally, think about the way in which your character carries themselves, including the way they walk, the way they talk, and the kinds of expressions they make when they’re speaking. These small details can give readers a better sense of who your character is and how they move through the world.

Tip #3: Make Your Character Unpredictable

It’s important to make your characters unpredictable, so that readers can’t guess what they will do next. Stephen King suggests that you should think about how your character would react in various situations and how they might surprise the reader. This will help to create tension and suspense in your story and keep readers guessing. Consider the different choices your character could make and the implications of each decision.

Tip #4: Don’t Over-Describe Your Characters

When it comes to character description, it’s important to strike the right balance. Stephen King warns against providing too much information about your characters, as this can become tedious for readers. Aim to provide just enough detail to give readers a vivid picture of your character without bogging them down with unnecessary details.

Tip #5: Allow Your Characters to Evolve

Your characters should be allowed to change and evolve throughout the story. Stephen King advises that you should think about how your characters will grow and develop as they navigate the plot. Consider how their experiences will shape them and how they will respond to the challenges they face. This will make your characters more dynamic and give readers something to root for.

Tip #6: Show, Don’t Tell

The best character descriptions are those that show, rather than tell. Stephen King suggests that you should use dialogue and action to reveal your character’s traits and motivations. Instead of telling the reader what your character is like, show it through their actions and words. This will make them feel more realistic and will draw readers into the story.


Creating memorable characters is an essential part of any successful story. Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, provides a wealth of insight and advice on how to craft vivid and compelling character descriptions. By considering your character’s backstory, focusing on small details, making them unpredictable, avoiding over-description, allowing them to evolve, and showing rather than telling, you can create characters that will leave a lasting impression on readers. Creating vivid and believable characters is essential to any good story. Even the best writers get stuck, though, when it comes to developing such dynamic personas. In his memoir, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King shares some of his tips for writing great characters.

1. Find inspiration in your own life. According to Stephen King, the people in your daily life will often provide the best source of inspiration when crafting a character. By taking different characteristics from people you know, you can truly craft a believable character.

2. Give your character flaws. King encourages writers to give their characters flaws and deeper motivations. Doing this will bring more complexity and realism to your character, thus making the story more interesting.

3. Bring your character to life with facts. To really make your character pop, use facts to give them more depth and personality. This means adding details such as their full name, likes and dislikes, hobbies, and other pertinent information.

4. Let the character deteriorate. If you’re writing a longer story that takes place over a period of time, let your character change. By doing this, your character will have a more full arc, which is something readers will highly appreciate.

5. Let the character surprise you. Even though you’re ultimately in charge, don’t be afraid to let your character go in unexpected directions. By experimenting and playing with the character, you might just find the next bestseller!

6. It’s ok to have a little fun. According to King, writing should be an enjoyable experience. Don’t be afraid to let your characters have a little fun. Doing this will make readers more engaged, as well as give your characters more humanity.

Following these tips from Stephen King will certainly help you write a great character. Inspire yourself from the people in your life, give them flaws, bring them to life with facts, let them deteriorate, let them surprise you, and have some fun with them. Doing this will create a character that will engage readers and make your story truly unforgettable.

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