1. Mohawk
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    Mohawk New Member

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    Having Trouble Describing Male Character's Hair

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Mohawk, Mar 15, 2013.

    This is something that has always peeved me for so long. I've always been able to describe female hair with little issue, or even if my main character, regardless of gender, has a distinctive style. However, when a male character in my head has a specific style that isn't necessarily distinctive, I have a lot of trouble finding words.

    Par of me believes hair doesn't really need too much description outside of a few adjectives, but finding the adjectives outside of color can prove to be a challenge!

    For an example of a sort of simple style hair that I would have trouble describing:

    KimJonghyun-hairstyle.jpg

    Outside of medium length and brown, I have no idea what else to use. How would you all?
     
  2. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    Justin Bieber?! Just kidding

    The hairstyle is around what a teenager would have and layered. Since it is a standard style why does it really matter. Unless the hairstyle is significant to the character, a clean and youthful hairstyle should work. If he had blue hair of course you would need to describe the color.
     
  3. Mohawk
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    Mohawk New Member

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    It mostly matters because it's a roadblock. Even though I don't dedicate a lot of effort into the description of common hairstyles, it bothers me that it manages to stump me. I'm not so much looking for what kind of person would have it, more what words could be used to describe it.

    As I said, I am fine describing distinctive looks, my main character in my latest work is sporting a very specific type of mohawk that I am able to describe with ease.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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  5. Mohawk
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    Mohawk New Member

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    I wasn't necessarily thinking of style neames. Just adjectives.

    If I ready a story where the term "CUPCAKE CUT" was used, I'd be extremely confused.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Don't be such a naysayer, take a look at the sites, they offer dozens of adjectives.

    "A bit of a shag it would seem," she said about his hair.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I almost never feel the need to describe any character's hair, unless it's very unusual and affects the plot in some way. Why, exactly, does it matter to your story what your character's hair looks like?
     
  8. Mohawk
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    Mohawk New Member

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    Honestly, you've inspired me to make a character with cupcake cut. I have bookmarked them and I thank you. :3
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I can't think of cupcakes without thinking of Burning Man.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MsTW-aBvA4
     
  10. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    I read a funny description of a hair style in a thriller which gave insight into the character:

    ... hair cut in a grey helmet... And I made my own image of this character without the author spelling it out.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with minstrel - why does it matter so much? Why does it matter at all?
     
  12. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I just describe the length of the hair and the color of it.
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If it's important for us to know about the style, a good trick is to have another one of your characters describe it. They can refer to it in a bit of dialog, or can think about it from their own POV. Do they love it, hate it? Why? It's great when your descriptions can do double-duty, and illuminate character traits of more than one person.
     
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  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This is a good suggestion. I'm going to use it.

    The comments asking, why does the hairstyle matter, surprise me. We want to picture the characters we are reading about, don't we?
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Of course. But is there any reason the reader has to picture the characters the same way the writer does? In most cases, there really isn't.
     
  16. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep - but I want to picture them my way. I could care less how the author sees them. Their idea of beautiful or seductive could leave me going "Yech!".
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    I'm not sure I see where describing the physical characteristics of a character is poor writing? Could someone elaborate beyond people want to imagine their own? I get that but just where is the line? I would think there needs to be some kind of description.
     
  18. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    It's not poor writing to me but there is boundaries. If those features don't contribute to the story in anyway, there is no point of describing it. Hairstyle usually isn't really relevant (Unless it is in the OP's story?) then there's no point of cracking your brain trying to describe it? The reader is going to form their own image you can't control anyway.

    I would probably describe: Eye and hair colour and clothing...any other important information.
     
  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not poor writing in as much as it is juvenile writing.

    Word economy dictates you want to pack the most punch in every paragraph. When it comes between describing someone's normal hair, or delving into their drug addiction, or neediness, or sweaty palms, or phobia of spiders, don't pick the hair.
    Novels are not movies. There are just too many options available to a writer that are not available to a director. Why waste those on banal descriptions, like eye color, hair, height? Like anything, these things may or may not play a vital role in captivating the reader. A man obsessed with his baldness is interesting. Someone who is constantly complimented for their fluffy hair might be interesting. The sentence or half a sentence used to simply tell me John had brown hair, with no other purpose than to tell me he had brown hair, might be better used in the hands of a more seasoned writer.
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    Well considering "Mohawk" started the thread, it is possible that hair styles could be meaningful for her characters. ;)
     
  21. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I didn't call it poor writing; I just personally find it usually unnecessary and unwanted. I will describe character's if there's a purpose to it - say, a fight scene where it explains the difficulty one character has that normally shouldn't be. Personal opinion only: I see describing characters as the author trying to dictate something non-essential to the reader, instead of allowing the reader to participate by using their own pictures. I skip descriptions; other readers love them. But if the OP is getting all uptight about a hairstyle description, I have to wonder why it's so important.
     
  22. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Leaving the "are-physical-descriptions-poor-and/or-juvenile-writing?" debates to the side, seems to me that if a guy's hairstyle is important, you work it in with the rest of the action.

    So if you're working with the haircut pictured above, you can have him push his bangs back from his forehead when he's worried or thinking hard about something. Or if he's gotten wet for whatever reason you can say his hair was plastered to his forehead with the water was dripping into his eyes. Or if there's a girl who has a crush on him she could admire the way his hair curls on his collar.

    I have a character in my WIR who has long hair (he's a musician) and I write it into the story from time to time because it's part of the way he expresses himself. But I never say how long it is, or precisely what color, or how he parts it, because that's not important. The general effect is what matters.

    What I would avoid is the author as narrator describing a guy's hair or anything else about someone's physical appearance point by point. A character might get away with it, if he's a cop who's putting out a bulletin on the guy, or, as above, a girl who's stuck on him, but even then it can get heavyhanded. So in that sense I'd say leave out the hair descriptions per se and just go with what the character does with it.
     
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  23. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, if you want adjectives for hair, check out this. :cool:
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like to give the description context, and not get too specific about the descriptive details themselves. Example:

    He looked consummately professional, except for the hair. It was brown and floppy, and to my middle-aged eyes at least two inches too long. My father would have mockingly asked him if he was a girl or a boy. I just had the impulse to shove him into a barber's shop.
     

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