1. Soul
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    Soul Member

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    Character description

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Soul, Feb 5, 2011.

    When i describe character,most of the time i don't describe their looks,but emotions.Do you have to balance those to,or is better to let reader imagine how character looks?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do you like reading? Personally i like to have some basic physical description of main characters, height, weight, eye colour, hair colour, maybe hair length and basic idea of what they dress in. I don't personally get as pulled into a story when I am not attached to the character and I don't have an idea of what the look like. I may continue to read the book and enjoy it but I won't be as engrossed as quickly.

    I include in my books what I like to read in others.
     
  3. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I agree with Elgaisma.

    I feel distant from the story if I don't at least know the basic description of the character, eyes and hair at least and maybe the rest can be slipped in naturally (Height, weight and the way they dress) I think their should be a balance. The emotions should be described when they need to, like a heartbreaking scene or something (lol) and the physical description described when it's important.
     
  4. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I guess the best way is to strike a balance between emotions and physical descriptions. I used to avoid physical descriptions just because I am horrible at it, but I am learning to do it because I feel it is necessary in many of my stories for reasons Elglaisma gave. Having said that, I hate, as a reader and as a writer, listing physical characteristics of a char like height, weight, hair color, eye color etc.

    I think it also depends on the story as well. In sci-fi novels, if there are any aliens involve, I immediately want to know what they look like, and in romance novel I want to know what's keeping our hero from looking away from the heroine when he first saw her :)
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I don't do enough physical description, people yell at me. xD
     
  6. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I only describe how a person looks or what the character is wearing if it is relevant. I like to leave a lot to the reader's imagination. Reading every little detail can be a bore.
     
  7. KrisDalpiaz
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    KrisDalpiaz New Member

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    I try to be sparse in character details. When I do include them, I try to slip them in through other characters' observations and only include the details I feel are important to the character.
     
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  8. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some authors either don't give a physical description or they are very vague with physical characteristics. They usually balance this by letting the character's personality mold how the reader views the character.

    Some authors like to give a physical description of their characters because that is simply the way they see their character. You couldl swap out the looks of that particular character and it wouldn't effect anything in the story.

    And then some authors, like me :), tend to use a character's physical description as a marker for how other characters see them. For example, I have a character that has red hair in one of my stories. She's easily recognized because of that. And in some locations in the story, because of her reputation, she is known as the Red Wolf.

    You just have to decide which works best for you. :D
     
  9. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Whenever I write my characters down, I normally give the characters every detail about himself/herself before I start my first draft. They all have a birthdate, hair color, eyes, gender, etc. Something llike this: Richard Devon was born in Kentucky. He is 28 years old, with black hair, black eyes, and a little bit light skinner than Jason. He has a beard and a small mustache on his upper lip. He was born in Kentucky. Sadly, he died in a car accident on Broadway to a drunk driver who drove recklessly. While he was living, he always enjoyed listening to music and wanted to be a pianist. Richard was born on February 18, 1982. He just earned his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts right before he died. He always wanted people to feel welcome to him by expressing themselves to him, listening, and helping them to any further extent.


    When I first start my draft, I don't write these in the book directly. Instead, I would paint a picture in the scene about what the characters look llike.
     
  10. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    There's no reason to write how a character looks. I agree with Trilby.

    It's seems that the physical description of a person matters if it plays a role in the story. If you're introducing a giant troll, you ma want to describe how large and ugly. Are you introducing an amazingly beautiful person, describe it but only if it matter to the story. If her beauty plays some role in the story.
     
  11. Show
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    ^^^^If you don't say how somebody looks, many readers take issue. There's no pleasing everyone.
     
  12. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Don't try to please everyone or for that matter, anyone. Write what is appropriate for the story and/or scene. If it is right, it will find the audience.
     
  13. Show
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    But that's kind of point, we write to please. That's why we ask for advice and we so easily accept what somebody else tells us is "right." What is right for a story might be some detail as to what this person looks like, even if it isn't terribly relevant.

    So if we're not trying to please anyone, there's nothing wrong with detail if you feel it necessary. There's middle ground between the extremes.
     
  14. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    I agree with Reggie. I write a file of every character in the story, discribing quickly its appearence, date of birth, personality, likes, dislikes and a bit of its history. I need to know where he comes from and where is he going. In the story itself, I insert those details throughout the story, so that the reader has a place to start when imagining them.
     
  15. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most people want some sort of framework of description to understand whats going on.

    You don't need description of "His shaggy brown hair" or "Her startling green eyes" every page, but adding that the character is fumbling to close a button, helps to give the feelings you describe a framework to create a mental picture of the scene.

    Or you might need to understand that one party of the conversation is a tiny 7 year old asian boy and the other party is an huge man with a ragged untrustworthy look. A bit of description of the characters gives a framework of context.

    Thats how I description. It there to create a framework for what is happening, emotionally of physically. Some scenes needs a studier framework then other, to let the reader form a understanding of what is happening.
     
  16. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Well, if you are definitionally looking at the broadest interpretation of 'writing to please', then you'd be correct.

    My point is that first think of what is right for that character or scene. What would be natural in that instance for a character's actions or words? If you write from what an audience expects, then you are writing from a formula and it will appear as such. It will have some level of a more obvious 'style' that may not ring true.

    If you first write what would be otherwise be natural in the scene's context and within the character's overall profile, no matter the circumstance, the scene will ring true on some level.

    Key is, if you write to an audiences expectation, you end up projecting a style and that often is not a good thing. It usually reads like the writer is more wannabe and not someone who is trying to tell a compelling story.

    Focus on the key elements and things like style just happen.
     
  17. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    We should write to please ourselves first. :) Take whatever anyone else tells you as suggestions. Otherwise, a writer will get so confused trying to figure out the 'right' way of things that nothing will get done.
     

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