1. Neoaptt
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    Neoaptt Banned

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    Longest Character Description Ever

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Neoaptt, Feb 21, 2010.

    I have heard rumors that there is a book where the first chapter is entirely about how the main character looks.

    I have no idea if this is true. And I have no idea how to find out.

    So i'm asking you if you know a book where there is an abnormally large about of detail for the main character. Or even just a abnormal about of detail in general.

    It might be fun just to read it. XD
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov has something of the sort. The main character spends the first 50 pages getting out of bed. But there's more to it than just that. And I suspect the same thing goes for the character description chapter you mention (unless the chapter is very short).

    It's hard to write a chapter or many pages about just description, which is why most writers don't do it (not to mention the fact that most readers do not like such a thing).
     
  3. Neoaptt
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    Neoaptt Banned

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    I wonder if you could do it. Just for the sake of doing it.
     
  4. Kayliss
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    Kayliss Member

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    Stephen king could easily do that. He tends to go a bit heavy on the descriptive settings for my tastes. I bet I could have easily cut " IT " down by 100 pages or so.

    I once read a horror novel called "Treehouse" when I was in my early teens I would give up a front tooth for. I want to read it again so I can really digest the writer's style. I have long since forgotten his/her name unfortunately.

    I remember really liking the flow of the story, and the liberal use of simplistic dialogue. Much easier to keep interested in as opposed to some novels which required a handy copy of an unabridged dictionary to comprehend fully. (See author mentioned at the top of this post)
     
  5. Neoaptt
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    Neoaptt Banned

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    Lol i know what you mean. Well actually, i don't. I really didn't need a book to comprehend it. I knew what he was talking about. It isn't that hard to get into a person's mind and think what they are thinking. At least, not for me. And my other 'friends'.
     
  6. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    Crossroads of Twilight

    Robert Jordan has always been the sort of writer who uses 10 words when one will do, but the first few wheel of time books were actually fairly entertaining and this could be overlooked. Unfortunately as the series goes on the plot takes back seat to the world building (which basically boils down to long boring descriptions of absolutely everywhere, everyone and everything his characters come into contact with), cumulating in this book where nothing happens whatsoever.
     
  7. Kayliss
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    Kayliss Member

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    Off topic, but one book I have always loved is One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, By A. Solzhenitsyn

    It's a short read, and it will make any bad day you have had seem like a holiday in comparison. It's written very much in the type of style I like best. Well thought out characters, but the characters are just backdrops in the story. The focus is on the main character, and there isn't all that darn jumping around like you find in some novels. I find it so hard to stop on a dime at the end of a chapter and switch gears to follow the path another character in the story is taking. I would much prefer to just see things from one point of view. I get disinterested with books that like to skip around.

    Take the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Never have finished it, in over 20 years of reading. I find it to be incredibly boring, and entirely too slow to be of any real interest.
     
  8. Neoaptt
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    Neoaptt Banned

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    That is something.

    My dad read LOTR to me. Twice...
     
  9. Kayliss
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    Kayliss Member

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    Oh you poor kid!

    :(
     
  10. Neoaptt
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    Neoaptt Banned

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    I don't remember most of it. I fell asleep. day after day after...
     
  11. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    You're actually calling him poor kid because his dad read him The Lord of the Rings?
    Sure, it may be some heavy-reading, but it is easily one of the most well-written stories (and this is even harder to come by in fantasy) I've ever read.
     
  12. Kayliss
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    Kayliss Member

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    if you like long slow books have fun. I also recommend "the sword of shannara" series by Terry Brooks if you like to languish in books that take forever to get anywhere.
     
  13. Wavanova
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    Wavanova Member

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    Moby-Dick has entire chapters dedicated to describing characters/things, but they're actually written beautifully. There's one chapter that spends pages describing the whiteness of the whale.
     
  14. Kayliss
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    Kayliss Member

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    I think you could do it, if you went into some detail about personality characteristics and background on some distinguishing marks

    ie:
    (basic)
    The tattoo he got while he was in Korea

    The scar above his right eye that reminded him of the sledding accident he had when he was __ years old...

    etc.

    That would make it a bit easier anyways.

    I've been up way too long. Night folks :D
     
  15. Neoaptt
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    Neoaptt Banned

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    Hmm.. Intresting points. I agree.
     
  16. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is because Melville is a literary genius in description. Moby Dick may look like a monster of a read when you just look at it, but I absolutely loved it. He uses heavy description and keys words, written somewhat poetically, to portray certain themes and elements of his novels and stories. I'm such a Melville fan though, and I know he's not for everyone.

    Also, I'm sorry you guys feel that way about LotR, but everyone has their own opinions. I like to view in my head where the characters are, how they look, and what's going on in full detail in a novel. Plus, reading a lot of very boring history texts has made me numb to being bored from description. It's what college does to ya haha.
     
  17. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    It's not that I like long, slow books. Its just that I love Lord of the Rings. And I've heard of The Sword of Shannara, but personally I don't like series with so many books in it. And sorry if I offended you with my comment, I meant no harm. :redface:
     
  18. Kayliss
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    Absolutely none taken.

    I read the first 3 Shanarra books, after that I lost interest. If there weren't different types of books or readers, writing styles would not have progressed in the fashion that they have.

    I recently read a book called "Enders Game". I liked it quite a bit, but there are again numerous books in that series, and the Xanth series by Piers Anthony is the most epic example of milking a dead cow I have ever seen. Night Mare (book 6 of Xanth) was about where I lost interest again.

    I think that if a book started out with a one chapter description of the main character, it would only catch the interest of an extremely limited audience. I think that because of the society that is now largely based on "instant gratification" that catching and holding the attention of someone looking for a good read is just getting harder.

    The Myth series by Robert Asprin, and Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series were very fun reads when I was in my mid teens. Very fast paced. I find them boring now though, over simplified.
     
  19. MelissaL
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    MelissaL Member

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    I don't know about you guys but I love Lord of the Rings! They are great books and very well written. I actually appreciate the description of the characters in this particular story, Tolkien is one of those writers that makes me interested in his characters and makes me want to learn more about them. I don't think he goes on and on about his characters that much at all really, I think his writting is more about character development. This is a story about different people on a quest to discover what they are made of.
     
  20. whiskeyjameson
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    whiskeyjameson Senior Member

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    I like description, though I don't think I could handle pages and pages of just blunt character description. Like others have said I'm okay with it as long as it's progressing the story as well.
     
  21. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Then I probably wouldn't read any Robert Jordan novel if I were you.
     
  22. whiskeyjameson
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    whiskeyjameson Senior Member

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    Noted. To be honest it's not like I think it would be a bad novel or that if I were to read it I wouldn't like it. But by preference if there are other books out there that I don't have to wade through then I'm just more apt to pick that one. I've read plenty of great books that were wonderful in their descriptions that were able to do so in fewer words. I think I also like things left blank and not described so that I can fill in the blanks. Usually I'll fill it in with an image that I already know. This helps me relate to the character/ place more.
     
  23. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm a firm believer that if the character's description is left with a lot of room for reader imagination, than it's better off. That's just me though.
     
  24. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    Sounds exhausting.
     
  25. dspiritz
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    he does tend to drag everything out. Brandon Sanderson has taken over the series after Robert Jordan's death. I haven't gotten around to actually reading it yet, but apparently it fits 3 later books worth of plot into the one book. :p (which isn't that hard..... )
     

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