1. Marthix
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    Marthix Member

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    Describing Muscular Beauty?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Marthix, Aug 10, 2010.

    Alright, I run into a small issue when I'm trying to describe females who have tough, athletic muscles. Not body-builder type, I'm just talking natural muscle from workouts/runnings and such. This may sound like an odd question, but how do I describe and make natural female muscle (the athletic type, both lower and upper body) sound beautiful? For males, it's easy to describe muscle mass and not make the reader raise an eyebrow or two. For females, I'm a bit more cautious. This is a very small bit to my novel that would like to include on one or two particular characters. Please let me out.
     
  2. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Use words like "lean", "athletic", "smooth", "powerful", "well-trained", "strong", and "toned". I think they are descriptive without giving the impression of a bodybuilder.

    EDIT: I'm not sure, but maybe you can make the reader infer how the body looks by placing it in the right context - the character is seen in a tracksuit, lifting weights, mentioning how fast they can run four miles, etc.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Probably use words like carved, vigorous, healthy, strong, sturdy would like to say statuesque but not sure if thats right lol
     
  4. Aconite
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    Aconite Senior Member

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    Slightly disagree on the last one: Despite the classical beauty trope, statuesque sounds to me like a euphemism for fat--not to say it's a bad body type per se because of that, but I see more Venus of Willendorf than Venus de Milo when I hear that word.

    People who are naturally athletic will most likely be more physically adept too; possibly, emphasizing how she's more physically capable in everyday life (going up four flights of stairs, unlike her lazy coworkers who use the elevator [like me]), would get the point across without a sledgehammer, too.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol I always think big woman that and amazonian:) I really wasn't sure about it:)
     
  6. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    When I read, I tend to prefer occasional sentences, which then build up to a complete picture. So if the writer mentions a woman who is short and wiry, built like a gymnast, I stick that in my "how this character looks" mental file. Later, if another character sees her for the first time and notices that she has no problem hoisting a sixty pound pack up onto her shoulders, her back and arm muscles flexing smoothly, then I'll add that to my "how this character looks" file as well.

    Now, there are books that describe male muscles in lavish details because the author wants to convey that the guy is "hot." I myself prefer authors to give the details in bits and pieces, so I don't expect purple prose when it comes to body type -- for either gender. I'd honestly rather that someone be described as "bulkily overweight, with layers of fat that obscured the muscle underneath" or "athletic, with narrow shoulders and long, lanky arms that moved like pistons" no matter their gender. I'll get the idea if the author is at all consistent in his / her / their characterization.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Lists of words have been offered, but the real question to me is the why?

    I don't mean why, like, "Why would you bother?"

    I mean why, like, "What is the specific purpose of the description?"

    Your description could easily be as light as a passing mention all the way up to, and including, pornographically explicate, in all truth.

    So, what is the why?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    An alternate approach is to describe another character's reaction to her physique instead.
     
  9. Marthix
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    Marthix Member

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    Thanks to all for their suggestions! I just don't want to overdo it you know. The reason behind all this is because I just want to get better at describing things. Perhaps there's a little sex appeal going on between a few particular characters. That's why I needed help describing bulkier female muscle and employ the best words to make it sound more beautiful. :) Thanks everybody!
     
  10. Flyingfishphilosopy
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    Flyingfishphilosopy New Member

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    Hello Marthix,
    If it's a description you are attempting, allow me to share one that came up as I read your plea. Wherein I gratefully, as well shamelessly borrow the strong words provided in earlier posts. I pray it to be helpful in any way, and please try to ignore the grammar and punctuation, since English is not my native tongue.


    When she ran passed my view, she reminded me of the white swan I saw earlier, taking flight from it's pond: With it's well shaped wings striking powerfully at the watery surface. Raising countless drops of crystal clear water to be basked in the mourning sunlight, as did tiny drops of sweat from the well toned arms on the girl I loved.

    I shivered as her powerful shown legs contracted at the same time my own heart did. The athletic muscles decorated her body as a gorgeous pearl necklace would have done. When I began to notice I was holding my breath, she had flown away from my sight, as the beautiful swan before her.


    If my words were not of any help, at least I hope the grammar linking them together, has made you smile.
     
  11. Marthix
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    Marthix Member

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    Flyingfishphilosophy, that description is wonderful. I love it. Thank you for sharing. Now if I can do that for these two particular females, I'll be all set! I love description and this was one of my harder issues to tackle in regards to it!
     
  12. Marthix
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    Marthix Member

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    Does describing an athletic female (like Lindsay Vonn or Serena Williams) as one with a "powerful frame" seem to masculine? Just curious.
     
  13. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    No, I don't think so. Say she has thunder thighs like woman gynasts. Or buff arms. Say she has a thin face, but that a part of her beauty still shone through. And to keep her femininity even more, say she has a thin waist.
     
  14. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    I would steer clear of the 'pearl necklace' description if I were you. That has entirely different connotations!
     
  15. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    I agree with Tasmin. Plus, I fail to see how well-defined muscles are anything like a bit of bauble at the throat.

    Of course, this is just my opinion, but I find what you wrote to be a bit overboard in the description department. The guy seems to be absolutely drooling. It is possible to get the image across with less. That may be stylistic preference though.
     
  16. Daveyboyz
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    Daveyboyz Member

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    Statuesque does not imply fat to me and neither does amazonian.

    In my opinion some of the women who go in for bodybuilding and fitness look very good in relaxed form its only when they are pumped up and flexing that they look masculine. They say that males don't process size but just the ratio's of hips to waist and waist to chest.

    Its about having curves in the right places, alot of female swimmers have broad and muscular shoulders and powerful legs but they also have thin waists and retain a generally feminine shape (thinking of Sharon Davies.)

    Muscular definition is not such a wonderful thing, I think you need to focus on leaness and athletisism. Smooth and capable, shapely and well honed, finely balanced, well proportioned are all the kinds of qualities to be described.

    I'm sure you can produce the image you want in the mind of the reader if you apply the words in the right way.
     
  17. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    She was a tall and athletic with all her curves in the right places.

    Her athletic body gave her an air of confidecne. She oozed sex appeal and she knew it.
     
  18. razcox
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    razcox Member

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    For me i find it helps to look at something that sums up what i am picturing and try to discribe that. So for a powerful man thats muscled i would print out a picture of a bull and list words to fit what the animal looks like. For a woman i would look more at a greyhound or Cheetah which has a more graceful power and leaner muscle to it.

    Oh also have to agree about the pearl necklace, thats a whole different subject there!
     

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