Giving Beards Character in Writing
When writing about beards, you want to find the perfect terms to explain how it looks, how thick it is, and what texture it has. Your character’s beards should be fully fleshed out with adjectives and descriptions to give readers an idea of what their character looks like.
The task can be daunting enough to make an author freeze up, so hereʼs a guide to help you find those perfect words and make your writing stand out.
Investigate What Type of Beard is Common
To start with, itʼs important to have an idea of what type of beard is most common in your book’s setting. In the Viking Era, beards often reached up to the chest. Today, most men just have a thick, dense beard without any of the Viking’s wild and stylistic flair. Knowing the kind of beards common in your chosen era will make it easier to accurately portray them.
Choose the Right Word to Describe Length
There are an array of words to use to describe the length of your character’s beards – from neatly trimmed to full and bushy. Words like “manicured” and “pruned” can be used to describe a shorter length, while “shaggy” and “bushy” evoke a more untamed look.
Describe its Thickness
How to accurately portray the thickness of your character’s beards? When describing the density of the facial hair, think about the amount of volume it gives off. Hair can range from ?ne and sparse to thick and luscious. Thereʼs also the wiry texture of a beard – the hairs thicker, coarser, and darker than the other hairs on your protagonist’s face.
Strand by Strand
When you want to get into the nitty-gritty details of your protagonist’s beard, create an image in the readers’ mind strand by strand. Think about how the hairs curl, wave, or even straighten out as it grows. Describe the color and try to evoke a feeling with the words you choose – perhaps a glossy, silky black or even a bright and colour chestnut.
A well timed metaphor can really bring your words to life. You can use something like “a beard so thick, it was like a layer of fog” or “as wild as a jungle”. Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie puts it perfectly; a metaphor is like a “little god” since it gives your readers an emotional understanding of your words.
Seek Expert Advice
Sometimes, it can help to turn to experts who have knowledge or experience of everyday life. Turning to a knowledgeable barber or even a beard enthusiast can help you find ways to describe your beard effectively.
Beards deserve to be fleshed out as much as your character does in writing. Just like the Viking warriors, your characters’ beards are a part of who they are and can command respect, awe, or at least evoke an emotional response from the reader.
Types of Beards
Beards can be categorised as many different types depending on their shape, length and thickness. Here are some of the most common types of beards, their descriptions and how to write about them.
The goatee is one of the oldest and simplest beard styles. It is usually a closely shaved, neatly trimmed patch of facial hair that outlines the chin and mouth. To accurately describe this beard, words like “neat”, “well-groomed”, “tidy” or “trim” come in handy.
The chin strap is a long, thin strip of hair on the jawline that’s usually half a centimetre wide. To accurately describe a chin strap beard, try adjectives like “defined” and “angular”. These words can help evoke an image of a clean and sharp – but not too unkempt – face.
The full beard is a full-face beard that ranges from neck length to stubble. It is most often extremely thick and dense. To describe this type of beard, words such as “dense”, “bushy”, “voluminous”, and “luxurious” come in handy.
The circle beard is a combination of a chin beard and moustache. To accurately describe it, think about how the facial hair is carefully trimmed and shaped. Describing this style of beard can involve words like “well-trimmed” and “sharply styled” to hit the mark.
The chin curtain is a thick, full beard that covers the jaw and chin. Depending on the occasion, it can be trimmed and maintained or let flow and grow freely. When writing about a chin curtain, words such as “rugged”, “thick” and “manly” can be used to accurately describe the style.
The Balbo beard is a combination of a chin strap beard and goatee. It covers the chin, neck and moustache, with the goatee extending to the sideburns. To accurately write about a Balbo, think about the shape and how it is artfully connected in an oval that comes down from both sides of the mouth.
Maintenance and Care
When writing about beards, it is important to research how to maintain one and the tools and techniques involved. Keeping a beard looking dapper requires the right treatment – washing, trimming and even brushing – and the right products, including beard oil and wax.
Washing and Cleaning
Beards should be washed and cleaned on a regular basis – at least once a week – to keep it looking healthy and shiny. Describing this step can involve words like “refreshed”, “revitalised” and “purified” to evoke the feeling of a clean and pristine beard.
Trimming and Styling
Trimming and styling beards requires a steady hands and specific tools. This process can involve words like “pruning” and “sculpting” to accurately describe the look and maintenance of a beard.
Brushing and Combing
Brushing and combing beards is important to remove dirt and spread natural oils. It is also necessary to set the structure and shape of the beard. To accurately portray this process, use words like “slick”, “coax” and even “mane-like” when describing the action.
Beard Oils and Waxes
Beard oils and waxes help preserve its health and keep it looking well-groomed. To accurately describe this step in a creative way, think about words that evoke a feeling of nourishment and pampering, such as “nurtured”, “moisturised” and “conditioned”.
Grooming and Hygiene
Itʼs not enough to just know the steps in maintaining a beard, but it is also important to keep it looking perfect and free from any dirt or bacteria. Here are some key tips to keeping a beard clean and presentable.
Plucking Out Unwanted Hairs
Plucking out unwanted hairs is a great way to keep a beard looking neat. Describing this step could involve words like “tweezed”, “pruned” or “precise” to capture the action accurately.
Shaving Around the Neck and Edges
The neck and edges of the beard should be shaved to keep things looking tidy. To accurately describe this step in creative terms, think about words that evoke an image of neatness such as “crisp” and “precise”.
Personal Preference and Maintenance
Beards may require different levels of maintenance and personal preference. To accurately describe this, think about words that evoke an image of individualism such as “unique” and “personalised”.
Hygiene and Cleaning the Face
Keeping the face clean and free from dirt is essential for hygiene and personal health. To accurately describe this, think about words that evoke hygiene such as “purified” and “cleanse”.
Parts of the Beard
Beards can be divided into several parts – each with its own set of adjectives, verbs and movements. Here is a breakdown to help you accurately write about them.
The moustache is the part of the beard that frames the upper lip and grows down the sides of the chin. To accurately describe this part of the beard, think of words like “sharp”, “defined” and “edgy”.
The cheeks define the overall shape of the beard. To accurately describe the cheeks, think of words like “angular” and “outlined” to accurately portray the shape.
The jaw is the bottom part of the beard, and it is often where the beard is longest. To accurately describe how the jaw looks, think of words like “full”, “bushy” and “dense”.
The sideburns are the part of the beard that extends down from the ears. To accurately describe how the sideburns look, think of words like “downy”, “soft” or “feathery” to evoke an image of a slight and luxurious look.
The beard trim is the process of carefully clipping the beard and keeping it well-groomed. To accurately describe this process, think of words like “neat”, “pruned” and “tailored” to evoke an image of order and cleanliness.
Grizzly whiskers are longer and more untamed. To accurately describe grizzly whiskers, think of words like “rugged”, “ruggedly handsome” and “untamed” to evoke an image of a wilder and manly