1. dracodomitor

    dracodomitor Member

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    How do I write my character describing another?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by dracodomitor, Jan 4, 2017.

    I'm writing from the point of view of a male character. As a female, I find this hard, but ultimately achievable.

    What I am finding very tough is how I go about describing the other (generally male) characters my MC meets without him coming off as romantically interested in them. It's fine when he meets a hot lady; she's tall, boobs, got it. That I can work with.

    I've always described every important person my characters meet for a roughly two or three lines. Here's an example:

    "[He] was a large man with a slab of skin for a stomach that toed the line between muscle and fat. White, though his face was a leathery red from the boiling sun and hardened into permanent wrinkles. A thick golden chain hung around his neck, hidden under his bulky suit. An oily slick of hair was combed across his skull, brown and thin. His eyes were small, wet and watery like two spots of lechery awfulness."

    This is fine. I'm happy with this. It's when the character is good looking that I struggle. I feel like I'm coming across like some sort of 1990's erotic romance novel. "His eyes were so green, blah blah, piercing into my soul, etc. etc."

    Help!
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The level of detail is too much and too presumptive and your POV is questionable. We happen to be talking about this very sort of thing in another thread at the moment. How does the POV character know about that gold chain if it's hidden?

    So, when you take this to engaging someone who is attractive, then yes, I can see why you are concerned. Pull back a little. Don't gush.

    Eric was stout and rough, but Jesus, those green eyes would be the envy of any girl. And that smile.

    That's it. That's all I need. I'm hot after Eric already. ;)
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    What would your character be noticing about the other character? That's what you might include in your description.
     
  4. dracodomitor

    dracodomitor Member

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    Without reading the background information, I realize how that particular example was very POV questionable. I'll try not to be so gushy in further descriptions and go back and edit the last few. :D It's hard to find the right balance between setting the scene and making any potential readers want to cry from boredom. Thanks!
     
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  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    With no excuse whatsoever, I'm rewriting your description in my more minimalist style.

    "This is my table."

    I looked up. Then further up. The guy was red-faced, with a greasy combover and tiny wet weasel eyes. Suit. Gold chain. Money. He wasn't just tall, he was big, and only some of it was fat.

    "Um. Sure. Sorry."
     
  6. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I completely understand. :bigwink: I write M/M erotica and yes, it's a balancing act between getting my description across of this guy or that guy, especially when the other guy is interested, so to speak, and giving a reasonable, rational description that would genuinely be the things a person would actually regard.
     
  7. jjwiggin

    jjwiggin Member

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    Does it matter?

    I like the way the dialogue of this was written, very blunt. Most men would describe other men this way. I think the question is, do men notice physical attributes of another man? Do they pay attention to them like women do? Like, would you really notice another man's body or facial features? Would you pay attention? Is it for all guys?

    I think, based on the quoted dialogue above, most men won't be as nice with their description as women. I could be wrong.
     
  8. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Referring to the same thread @Wreybies mentioned, I think if you're writing from the male POV you'd need to also point out the absence of breasts, in fact, it should be lamented. :D (Ok, this will only make sense if you participated in that thread).

    On a more serious note, to the OP: I don't know if I did it in a way that it actually works, but in the story I'm currently working on with my writing partner, there's this one character, a thai boxer, who has a pretty enviable bod, but it's just briefly mentioned in a piece of dialogue from another male character's POV and that's pretty much all the description he gets from another male character. I don't know, it felt appropriate to me so I rolled with it, but then again it might be shit.

    “Morning,” Jamie said. “What's with the post-it?” And the fucking abs? Jesus.
    Stan looked down at himself and detached a note from his treasure trail.
    [...]
    “Dude, put a shirt on,” Jamie said. “You're making me want to give up my decadent ways and start eating salad and chicken breast.”


    So maybe trying a shorter, more blunt approach would work? I mean, how deeply do straight guys -- in general -- even analyze the looks of other men, even if good-looking? Keeping it short and simple might reduce the '90s erotica romance vibe. Another thing you could do, if character appropriate, is make the description a little derisive, even mocking: This guy was straight from a Calvin Klein ad: chiselled features, cool blue eyes, L.A. tan. A great bedroom accessory for bored housewives, I'm sure.

    I do echo others who've said your first description was a little over-flowing. I think it provides a vivid picture, but could be pruned a bit. He seems like an interesting character just based on the looks. :D
     
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  9. jjwiggin

    jjwiggin Member

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    LOL! This is funny (cause it's true). However, this is VERY helpful. I think straight guys think this way... they will not acknowledge how good-looking the other guy is (at least, not out-loud!) :D
     
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  10. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    My hubby calls guys he thinks are good-looking "pretty boys" in everyday conversation. In writing, the author needs to provide a bit more, I think, but the derisive tone that he uses when he says "pretty boy" just sounds really straight-guy-ish to me. :D
     
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  11. Lonely Shadow

    Lonely Shadow Member

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    See when I do male descriptions, I always kinda hit at their sexuality, because male homo sapient based creatures think about sex. It's a staple with my most recent work. If I'm describing a female character, I talk about her boobs, ESPECIALLY if the POV is male.
     

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