One of the more famous paraphrases in cartooning is one that Matt Groening of the Simpson’s fame made. It’s about how you can gauge the strength of your character design by being able to distinguish your characters even from a silhouette. That is to say even with no details just the shape of the character should make its identity known. I’ve
always liked that concept. And though I can’t say that all my character designs have stood up to the silhouette test that bit of advice is always in the back of my mind.
Of course as writers we don’t have a silhouette test. We’re not a visual medium, so unless you’re a weirdo like me who draws all the characters in a novel for fun, there is not a ‘character design’ as there is in visual media. Granted this could be greatly debated. As many an author spends more time thinking about how a character looks and moves than his or her political leanings. But, even still we don’t have the same kind of silhouette sort of deal that Groening referred to on the writing page. Though I do feel we have a similar track to gauge when we go about developing characters.