1. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Defining a Character Over Time

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by zilly, Feb 24, 2011.

    Perhaps this should be in the General Writing forum. I'm not sure, but...

    How do you feel about a character being described/defined over time? It never bothers me when I read, but I suspect it might bother people.

    For example, a character is introduced as "tall and thin" and then a chapter later something may be added like, "his blue eyes." You may have already pictured him to have brown eyes, but are informed otherwise.

    Is this frustrating to you or do you not mind it?
     
  2. Deleth
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    Deleth Member

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    Personally this does not bother me, but in my own writing I try to establish how certain characters WHOSE LOOK IS IMPORTANT to the story's looks early on, because if you want the reader to have a specific image in their mind, you need to be specific early.

    However describing a character as scenes allow is also acceptable, and as far as I know the more accepted method, though I have read it both ways in novels.

    Sorry if that doesn't really help, I'm on both sides of the issue hehe
     
  3. Dandroid
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    Dandroid Senior Member

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    it may just be me...but i think i would find it a little jarring...my picture of the character should be formed pretty quickly..it wouldn't seem pertinent to the story any longer if i encountered more description later on...it would also depend on the focalization...if in 1st person..and the description was of another character they happened to admire...as in..."i watched as other characterrose from the stream, her dark hair slippery and stuck to the blah blah blah..." but if the elaboration was for the main character....not a fan
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would annoy me to have an image of a tall dark handsome fellow in first chapter only to find out he is short fat bald with blue eyes in the second chapter.
     
  5. Dandroid
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    Dandroid Senior Member

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    exactly...though i wouldn't be as upset..and for different reasons...;)
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol I just cannot do books like this at all I need name and basic description then I can move on. I find myself flicking pages to find out and be even more annoyed if name and basic description never happen.

    I always feel a little cheated like the author didn't care enough about their characters to share a little bit or they didn't know them very well so why should I bother.

    It doesn't have to be a lot I was happy enough to know that Jane Eyre was small and plain etc but just enough so that I know the author knows if that makes sense at all ?
     
  7. Dandroid
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    Dandroid Senior Member

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    i've read the odd book where i can't even remember if the main character had any description other than gender...i still achieved a strong image...my last novel only described injuires and a last name...once
     
  8. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    I've always gone for the less is better strategy. I feel when writers attempt to overly describe really any character or even scenery for that matter it just boxes the reader in and makes it difficult to formulate an image in their own mind. Describing a character over time to me would really only work for enigmatic figure: like a person one keeps seeing in a dream, or someone like a thief or something who only speaks in hidden or difficult to see places.
    I try and stick with these basic steps: Height, weight, physique, hair, eyes, clothes, and notable features (scar, missing an eye, etc) By leaving your description fairly vague, you allow the reader to produce an image of the character with their own imagination that matches the personality you give the character in the book.
     

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