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Describing a Character like a Spy

The following idea is based on the method taught by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to agents during the Second World War. I’ve made a few changes to make it a little more modern and to add a few missing features, like hair. It was intended to allow an agent to describe someone to an agent so they can recognise them from the description. It wasn’t an exact or scientific method like those used by police or the Bertillon system. Instead it aimed to allow the quick recognition of someone in a crowd by eliminating other people.

Features to Always Describe

Feature Suggestions
Gender Male or Female
Apparent Age Either an age range or a simple description such as child, teenager, adult, middle aged or old
Height Average, Short, Tall, Very Tall, Very Short
Build Slight, Large, Stocky or Medium
Ethnicity White, Asian, Black, Chinese
Distinguishing feature Hunchback, cross-eyes, missing ear, missing eye, missing limb, missing finger

Features to Describe if Distinctive

Feature Suggestions
Head Small, Large, Round, Long, High Crown, Flat at the Back, Bulging at the Back
Face Found, Chubby, Broad, Long or Cadaverous, Narrow, Thin, Oval
Complexion Fair, Dark, Black, Brown, Yellow, Sallow, Sunburnt, Red, Purple, Freckled, Fresh
Forehead Receding, Bulge or Prominent, Broad, High or Low
Head Hair Colour, Style, Bald, Neat or Untidy, Long or Short
Eyebrows Arched, Straight or Oblique, Thick or Bushy, Meeting, Lack of, Thin, Plucked, Sandy, Red, Black, Grey, White. Colour should only be mentioned if different from colour of hair of head
Facial Hair Stubble, Sideburns, Beard, Moustache, Style, Neat or Untidy, Colour should only be mentioned if different from colour of hair of head
Eyes Colour rarely described because hard to use for identification.Size, Shape and Position. Large, Almond, Sunken, Protuberant
Ears Four points: Size – Large or Small. Fold – Pronounced or lack of. Lobe – attached, unattached or lack of. Sticking out of head or pressed close into the head
Nose Straight, Convex or Concave, Base Elevated or Depressed. Nose long in proportion to face. Very wide nostrils.
Cheeks Prominent cheekbones, fat or flabby, jowl, hollow, dimpled
Mouth Large or small
Teeth Prominent, false, missing, discoloured, white, gold
Lips Length of upper lip, thickness, overhanging upper lip, pendent or protruding lower lip
Chin Receding, protruding, small or pointed, large or square, double, dimpled
Neck Long or short, thin or thick, Adams apple
Shoulders Broad or drooping
Arms Long or short in proportion to body
Hands Artistic or Worker, Large or Small, Nail Long or Short,
Legs Long or short, bowed or knock kneed, no ankles (women)
Gait Slow or Quick Stride, Long or Short, Pigeon Toed or Splayed feet, Limp
Bearing Stooping or Straight
Voice Soft or Loud, Accent
Mannerism Any peculiar mannerism or habit should be described
Distinguishing Marks and Piercing Any Tattoos, Birth Marks, Scars or Piercing which are visible
Scent Clean, Cigarette Smoke, Perfume or Cologne,

 

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