1. Masli
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    Masli Member

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    character description

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Masli, Jan 19, 2013.

    Hi,

    I've read several books on 'how to write' and so far they thought me a lot, including that things that to me had always looked random, was actually a designed structure.
    For instance how to describe a place. That instead of randomly starting to describe it, you should do it in the same order we use our senses. (so describe sight first, then sounds etc.)
    Now, maybe I'm reading too much into this (I'm starting to see structures and underlying designs where I never saw them before) but I was wondering wether there is such a 'design' as well with character description.

    I'm currently writing a scene where my MC wakes up and sees someone sleeping at his bedside. Someone he has never seen before... So my question is, where do I start?
    Like from head to toe? Striking features first? His pose?
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    His feelings - his mood.
    Most people finding someone in there bed they've never seen before are - who the hell is that?
     
  3. Masli
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    Masli Member

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    ah sorry if I gave off the wrong impression, the other person isn't IN his bed. Just slouched on a chair next to it....
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Write from a point of view. Not only what the observer CAN see, hear, smell, touch, and even taste, but what will rise to the top of the observer's consciousness.

    So the friend of twenty years, who has seen the character continually, will not notice he flecks of gray in dark shaggy hair. That friend may notice an uncharacteristically tired appearance, or a freshly blackened eye.

    Don't force description for the sake of presenting the reader with a photographic image of the character. It;s not necessary, and the effort will stand out more than that blackened eye.
     
  5. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Heavily character dependent:

    A people person would take note of the other character and try to ascertain their purpose based on available features - uniform, quality of fabric, neatness, etc. Additionally, a person prone to certain behaviours (womanising for example) might focus on specific details.
    Someone with reason to be concerned for their welfare might first try to establish where they are and whether anything nearby poses a threat: Possible exits, weapons, etc. A thief might also identify potential valuables and so on.
    Don't forget that the person's state of mind when they lost consciousness is important: There is that traditional moment where someone spends a second or two enjoying the pain of regaining lucidity before they panic. Drugs also affect how people rationalise their surroundings. It might be that your character doesn't have time to lie there and examine their environment.

    Finally, keep your description relevant. Some of the above examples should ONLY be explored if the specific provisions are true. While you may be able to see an entire room, you rarely take the time to consciously examine everything. A nice technique is to show by telling: She lit the candle. He placed the lamp on the vanity. X Y'd the Z and the Q into the $.

    You get the idea.
     
  6. Masli
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    Masli Member

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    thank you all so much!
     
  7. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    Usually when describing a character, I go for the things that make them most notable to me right away. However, if your character is waking up after being unconscious, they might not always consider the most notable things about the person/people around them. So that is something to consider. You might want to try reading things of a similar situation to see how other writers have described the person brought to attention.
     

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