Most books I’ve read use some type of personal description to show character (how they dress, body build/size, how they move within a space for example). I’ve come to expect it as a “norm”. I just started reading Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. At the end of chapter five, we are introduced to a new character. The narrator relates a few phrases about regarding what he knows of this person. Then at the beginning of chapter six fleshes it out like so:
Standing in the doorway and glancing round me, I had a general impression of extraordinary comfort and elegance combined with an atmosphere of masculine virility. Everywhere there were mingled the luxury of the wealthy man of taste and the careless untidiness of the bachelor. Rich furs and strange iridescent mats from some Oriental bazaar were scattered upon the floor. Pictures and prints which even my unpractised eyes could recognize as being of great price and rarity hung thick upon the walls. Sketches of boxers, of ballet-girls, and of racehorses alternated with a sensuous Fragonard, a martial Girardet, and a dreamy Turner. But amid these varied ornaments there were scattered the trophies which brought back strongly to my recollection the fact that Lord John Roxton was one of the great all-round sportsmen and athletes of his day. A dark-blue oar crossed with a cherry-pink one above his mantel-piece spoke of the old Oxonian and Leander man, while the foils and boxing-gloves above and below them were the tools of a man who had won supremacy with each.
And just like that, I know that this new person is a sportsman (rowing and boxing), that he has an appreciation for fine art (a dreamy Turner), that he likes boxers, and that he most likely enjoys the ballet. One paragraph, and I already have a presumption about this person–or at least the narrator has conveyed his presumption about this person. It will be interesting to see whether this character validates that presumption, or whether he turns out to be something else entirely.