1. Ryo-Heart
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    Ryo-Heart Member

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    Detailing Your Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ryo-Heart, Aug 12, 2008.

    So how much detail dose everyone put into their character as they write. I mean their looks, me I try and get it all in right off the bat and I tend to write to much on them. What do you do when explaining a character?
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    You may just bore your readers if you try to get it all in all at once. For me, I brief the appearance of a character when he/she comes into the story then describe the minor details, like accessories, throughout the story. There are exceptions to this, especially with my MC, where I simply describe him/her throughout the story. Usually, by the end, most of the characters have enough information while the important characters are very detailed.
     
  3. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    Usually a one or two sentence description will suffice for me. Maybe a comical comparison to an animal the person looks like, if I can. Like Nilfiry said, you don't want to bore your readers to death. Little descriptions over time work well, or blending descriptions with action sequences.
     
  4. AnonymousWriter
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    AnonymousWriter Contributing Member

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    I usually slot appearance features etc. of the characters throughout the story. Giving too many details at once could bore the reader. I give enough important details e.g. hair colour etc. but don't tell the reader everything; it's better for the reader to be able to create their own image of the character.
     
  5. Ryo-Heart
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    Ryo-Heart Member

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    I have the problem of doing this I always put in way to much detail to start with I am trying to tone it down but sometimes it just flows out before I think of what im typing then I get a block trying to delete it all.
     
  6. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    I like to keep details to a minimum. Hair colour and general anatomy is about as far as I go, as I like to let the readers make their own picture of a character. I find it quite jarring if details are left off at the beginning as they change your picture of the character. In the book I am reading at the moment, the main character goes for about 2 chapters before the author mentions that he has a beard, and that really jarred me, as I had not pictured him this way. At the end of the day, the way the reader pictures characters is the way they want those characters to be, so I don't like to change that image.
     
  7. Ungood
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    i just try to put in what I think the reader needs to know at the time.

    Just my style I guess.
     
  8. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    Going to second this.

    I start off with the barest of bare necessities. I give less importance to features than to characteristics of the MC. What I tend to focus on more is how the character acts and interacts, or how they speak, rather than what they look like. However, I take quite a different approach to secondary characters.
     
  9. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see the point in slotting or all-outs. I use Ungood's method. It might not matter what color the characters eyes are for the whole story... so I don't say. Maybe my character profile says pink. Same for hair color, or height.

    But I do think that if a feature is important, or really desired, it needs to be made clear quickly. Maybe it isn't important 'til the seuqel that the reader know my character's eyes are pink, but I have to balance that with how the reader will react to their blue-eyed darling suddenly going chameleon half-way through the story.


    Ryo- If it just flows out, let it. Fix it in revision.
     
  10. Ryo-Heart
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    Ryo-Heart Member

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    Good idea Etan Isar, thank you. I go threw and say it right off the bat and get to the point where sentences sound odd, I ask my mom to read over them but she never has the time or doesn't feel like doing it.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a minimalist in that regard. I don't define any more about a character than the story needs, and I only describe when there is a good opportunity and reason to do so. For one thing, I respect the reader's imagination, and I know that if I want to convey beautiful, for instance, The more details the reader fills in, the more closely it will approximate that person's ideal.

    The author needs to give enough of a sketch to set the character parameters he or she wants to direct in the reader, and to help the reader distinguish the characters from one another clearly.

    In one short story, all I told about the appearance of a mysterious woman the MC becomes attracted to, is that she had dark hair, remarkable blue eyes, and wore a blue dress. I had a very clear pictiure of her. The dark hair was an arbitrary choice, but the blue eyes and dress were important to the story.

    Nearly everything else about her was supplied by the reader's imagination.
     
  12. Ryo-Heart
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    Ryo-Heart Member

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    My description is more like this:

    A girl sat in a cell, the stone walls making it drawer and cold, she
    sat on a cot in the far end of the cell a girl in the cell next to her,
    the chain on her foot cold and almost unbearable a few slave masters
    hade already passed her cell taking a look at what they wanted, she was
    unclean she hadn’t taken a bath for days and she was hating it. Her
    hair was no longer midnight blue it was a dark brown color and all
    tangled her brown eyes full of spirit and life. Her body was covered in
    dirt and a rusty brown dress that was tattered and ripped. Her face was
    almost imposable to see. She hade only been there three days and was
    already dirty.

    That came out of one of my fanfics
     
  13. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    I generally describe hair color and length, but that's about it. When I imagine characters in my mind, for some reason the hair always stands out. Most of the rest I let the readers decide.
     
  14. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's nothing particularly overkill about that, but it could be greatly reduced and conatin much the same information; for instance:

    "A dirty slave girl sat on a cot in her cold, damp cell, wearing a tattered dress."

    Of course, that leaves out the characterization, but then, a slave girl complaining about baths and hair is a bit of a priss anyway. I'm also ignoring some of the inconsistancies, in favor of making the point about efficiency.
     
  15. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    I prefer to slip in some basics over the first few chapters. Usually, I limit it to age and general hair or eye color, unless there's something specific or eye catching about the character that I want to get across.

    I don't really like unsubtle descriptions, but lean more toward dropping the odd detail here and there, rather than launching into a whole paragraph of description, especially if it's early on the in story. I think that's more acceptable in certain genres, however, than in others. In romance, for example, character descriptions usually call for more detail than I would normally use.
     
  16. Ryo-Heart
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    Ryo-Heart Member

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    Thank you for the feed back, maybe I should post up my fanfics tho there is a lot of grammar mistakes in my writing.
     

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