1. TorpidHues
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    TorpidHues New Member

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    Character descriptions

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TorpidHues, Dec 10, 2011.

    I'm starting to write my first story since high school about ten years ago. So I'm a bit rusty. I'm trying to figure out how to physically describe characters as they come about in a story without being too mechanical or ham fisted about it. The story in question is a horror/drama story with teddy bears. (It does make more sense than it sounds) ((I hope)) So the descriptions aren't too hard, since we all know what a teddy bear looks like. But they all have different sizes and unique body shapes. In particular the color of their fur is rather indicative of their character.
     
  2. Holden
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    Holden Senior Member

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    If the physical description is relevant to the story, add it in when the reader needs to know about it. If the shape and fur describes their character, it'd be good to let the reader know right as the character is introduced. You have, like you said, the luxury of a teddy bear being commonly known. You're not going to sound like you're forcing description down the reader's throat if all you have to describe are colors and shapes. You won't need to spend three paragraphs describing each individual bear. It shouldn't be too hard, and I'd suggest adding the description as soon as the character becomes known.
     
  3. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I don't know if this works for you, but I only give a basic description of my main character. She's 5'6, raven-haired, blue eyed and athletic build. This lets the reader form their own idea on what they think the character looks like. I feel (and I can be wrong) that it gets the reader more involved in the story.
     
  4. KinkyCousin
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    KinkyCousin Member

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    I basically do the same thing. Describe hair colour, eye colour, height and build. The rest is up to the reader to imagine.
     
  5. Steve89
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    Steve89 Member

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    I think it's best not to try to force descriptions out unless they are necessary. The reader doesn't need to know everything about a character, just certain things, such as initial thoughts when two characters meet. Try to describe the characters in comparison to other characters or things around them, avoiding being too precise. Nobody will look at a character and instantly know their exact shade of hair colour or exactly how much they weigh.

    My advise is keep to a strictly need-to-know basis and you'll be fine. And besides you already have the template of teddy bears so the jobs already half finished :p.
     
  6. ShadowScribbler
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    ShadowScribbler Member

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    I'm starting to think I'm the only person in this forum who likes to describe her characters thoroughly. xD

    Seriously. I love making very specific descriptions and letting my hand run loose on the details. For me, it's more realistic than reading about some bloke I can't even picture right in my head because he looks like the average Joe to me -- just like every other character out there. I'd tell you to describe when you need to, and make sure you make your characters your own.
     
  7. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    When you first introduce the character is the default time to get a decent description in, and you should, to an extent. Though I often tease out a full description over a few scenes, making sure the scenario is relevant to the attributes I'm describing, I'll give you a few descriptions from my own work as well as a number of description types I find work well for me.

    The comparison decription - you're introducting a character in a busy place, a bar or nightclub maybe. Use everybody around them to help you describe them! - are they the 6'6 athlete who dwarfs everyone? Or the gorgeous redhead everybody's checking out when they think no-one's looking? Or even the average joe you can't distinguish from the crowd.... so you make a joke about it! Very easy to hit a cliche, but if done well it can really work.

    The reaction description - Simple, your character's reaction and opinion on how they look, an example from one of my shorts: "I’m taken aback by how good she looks tonight. Her dark hair is pulled into a long ponytail except for red sideburns that curl gently onto her cheeks. Black banded barbells hang from ears stretched low into circular flesh tunnels. Studs pierce her cheeks and a silver ring juts from her bottom lip. I grab her around the waist and kiss her roughly." (yes, it was quite an adult story! lol)

    The vanilla description - Sometimes the original and best, very simple, to the point and tells you all you need to know for now in a sentence or two, anything else can be beefed out later. "The doorman is a towering figure clad in a leather jacket and tight turtleneck. His hair is cropped short on the sides and dyed a light orchid purple; an overhanging fringe is swept over one eye."
     

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