I am still fairly new to writing, so I am bound to make plenty of mistakes. The beginning goes like so:

The female protagonist wakes up in the morning after passing out at her female friend's house. She wakes her friend up, wanting an explanation.

So, I technically don't have a chance to describe the protagonist as I am writing in first person, but because I see the female friend as the narrator, with my own eyes, I end up describing her facial features, etc etc, before the protagonist's appearance is described.

I have considered that it would be weird for the reader to know about a more minor character's appearance first, rather than the main protagonist's, but I am not entirely sure if I am doing the wrong thing. Is this something I shouldn't have done? Does this matter?

  • 2
    Remember that you don't necessarily need to describe your characters' appearances. When authors start telling me what someone's wearing and how they wear their hair, my tendency is to skip to the next paragraph and see if the story picks up there. Jun 14, 2016 at 11:24

1 Answer 1


When writing in first person, you would only write about what your POV character is seeing, thinking, feeling, experiencing. This means that unless she is looking in a mirror, or particularly self-conscious, she would not be thinking about her own appearance in great detail.

This means that it would make sense that she would notice her friend's appearance first. However, when I see my friends, I don't immediately assess their looks in my own head, unless something is different or notable.

Therefore unless her friend's appearance is particularly noteworthy, she wouldn't necessarily acknowledge that either. And unless the friend is an important character throughout the story, her appearance may not even need to be given in great detail.

Therefore you could always begin with a minimal description of the friend from your protagonists perspective, and then bring it back to the main character's appearance.

Perhaps she wakes up her friend, who is lay down with her hair covering her face (opening up the opportunity to describe her hair, or note that something else looks out of place in her disheveled state). Then when the friend wakes up, she comments on something about the MC such as "what's that on your face?" or "what happened to your nose?"

Then she can perhaps rush to the bathroom and look at herself in the mirror to assess her features, or maybe even just feel her face with her hands to find out what is on it, opening up the thought process of your protagonist to her own features.

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