1. RachHP
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    RachHP Contributing Member

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    Character description: scars

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by RachHP, Jun 3, 2015.

    Hi everyone,

    An early description for my MC goes as follows:
    Her skin was bare and it was distracting them, mangled scars around her upper arms that reminded Kayla of fire.
    She was burnt by ropes of fire (good old magical injury) several years ago and has been permanently disfigured. It's significant to the story so various people check them out and feel guilt/disgust/sympathy etc. So, I need to describe their physical appearance on more than one occasion but am struggling to come up with different ways of describing the same thing.

    Any ideas (words/full sentences) that will help keep it interest and stop me repeating myself?
    All suggestions welcome. Thanks!
     
  2. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    It might be a bit gross depending on your threshhold for this kind of thing, but I'd look up pictures of burn scars and just try describing them as an exercise. See what you can come up with.

    If she was burnt by fiery ropes I'd assume her scars are mostly straight lines around her upper arms? You might refer to them as bands or circles, or if the ropes were wrapped around her arms multiple times they'd be spirals.

    Is she only burned where the ropes themselves touched her or did the magical flames spread at all? You might talk about the worst of the scarring being that band, with less severe markings above and below them and possibly spreading to the sides of her ribcage (if her arms were down when this was happening).

    'Mottled' is a word frequently used to refer to burn scars, you might say her skin looks 'melted' or 'cooked', it might look lumpy, dry, taut. It could look scaly. It might be both pitted and ridged. It might still be an angry vivid pink or mellowed into a splotchy shade still darker than her skin tone, or have gone smooth and shiny and pale with time.
     
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  3. RachHP
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    RachHP Contributing Member

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    Thanks @izzybot :)
    I will definitely try the photo prompt like you suggested.
    Fab words and descriptions, all helpful and I'm sure I shall make great use of them!

    It didn't spread but you raise a good point about widening the perspective a little. There are other marks on her which I can refer to in connection to the scars, which will make things more interesting. Great idea!

    Thanks again x
     
  4. bigbrain28
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    bigbrain28 New Member

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    Is the character ashamed of the scars? Or proud - that she survived? Perhaps as you further develop the character, on these repeated references to the scars, you can describe them less literally and more as to how they make her feel, or how the reactions of those who see them make her feel, or the observer feels. Maybe these are a reminder of a battle, or an attack she overcame and serve as marks of honor - her stripes. Or if they mark shame they may be her secret and take on a more mysterious tone.

    And, not that you asked, but... Scars are past tense - They are the best healing scenario for the injury sustained. Perhaps mangled scars is mixing the injury and the outcome to closely? You may be mangled, and heal with scars, but mangled scars suggests, to me, that the scars themselves have been re-injured.

    Just a thought :)
     
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  5. Marie Frebronze
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    Marie Frebronze New Member

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    I also have an MC who is literally covered in scars from the neck down - most are injuries from his "training". I like words like jagged, broken, raised, twisting, etc., but basically good, evocative words.

    Also, bigbrain, I would imagine that when they are described as "mangled" that it's a mess of scars more than unhealed or reopened. Maybe it's just my personal interpretation.
     
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  6. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Scars are: pink/purple (depending on her skin color), swollen or puffed up, shiny ...
     
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  7. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Scars also change colour depending on the ambient temperature, whether the person is hot themselves (exercising), and tend to remain uncoloured despite the person being sunburnt or tanned from the sun.
     
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  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The burn scars on my chest look a bit like someone dripped candle wax on them and it stuck. I've used this description myself, but then again, I'm not sure if your character's scars would have a similar scarring/appearance? (mine came from scalding water).

    If you describe them again and again from different POVs, you can try to think how that particular person would see them or what it would remind them of e.g. based on their backgrounds or interests.

    By the way, when I think of "mangled", I think of something like a crippled limb. Cambridge Dictionary defines it as follows:

    mangle verb



    [T often passive] to destroy something by twisting it with force or tearing it into pieces so that its original form is completely changed: My sweater got mangled in the washing machine. His arm was mangled in the machine.› [T] If you mangle a speech or a piece of written work, you make so many mistakes that you completely spoil it: As he read the poem out loud, he mangled the rhythm so badly that it hardly made any sense.


    mangled
    adjective
    › All that remains of yesterday's car crash is a pile of mangled metal.


    But maybe it works for describing scars... Personally it threw me off, but I'm definitely no expert here.
     
  9. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Oh yeah. Scars typically do not grow hair. Like the scar on my leg where I accidentally knifed myself? No hair grows on that small, narrow slit of discoloured skin no more. Possibly helpful if your characters is particularly hirsute.
     
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  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's true. I have a bald patch on my head thanks to a scar. Barbers always ask if I've noticed it, thinking I've got that patchy-baldy condition some women get and that they should let me know.

    I just realized I'm giving a rather freaky image of myself here... Oh well. :ninja:

    For the record, I think your characters sounds really quite interesting, @RachHP :)
     
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