1. 11Piper11

    11Piper11 New Member

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    How to develop character when you need to hide character's description

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by 11Piper11, Jul 23, 2019.

    I am working on a story and I do not want to expose physical characteristics of the main character until my 3rd book in the series. I don't even want to reveal whether it is a male or female character. Is there any advice as to how to character build without revealing these details without the readers really missing it? Please respond with any direction. It would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Is this character going to be your Point of View character (POV?) If you are writing in first person with this character as the POV character, I reckon this would be do-able. The person (referred to as "I" in the story) doesn't need to reveal his or her own physical characteristics if he/she doesn't want to.

    As to the readers missing it? Well, I think most readers WILL miss it. (Not so much the description thing, but the gender reveal, etc.) I suspect the best way to tackle that would be to do it directly.

    Have your POV character say something like, "My age doesn't matter. My looks don't matter. What I wear doesn't matter. What my gender is doesn't matter. Who I fall in love with doesn't matter. What does matter is (whatever does matter to the character.)" If you take that approach, then your readers will know you don't intend to reveal these things, so they'll stop looking for answers to those questions. They'll just take the POV's attitude for granted.

    If you don't mention the omission, though, hoping readers won't notice, I think you might be causing problems for yourself. But, like anything else, it's not the idea that matters. It's how it gets written that matters.

    I assume there must be some good reason you are taking this approach?
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  3. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Supporter Contributor

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    I think we will get a general idea based upon what they do/can do.
    Also you could hint to as to how they look, if they happen to have
    someone mention something about their appearance.

    Other than that, you should be good, since what they do and who they
    are will be more than enough for the reader to get a general idea of what
    they will look like based upon those traits outside of outright putting them
    in front of a mirror and describing themselves. So you don't really need to
    bother with physical description at all, since the reader can fill in those bits
    if they are not important to the overall story. :)
     
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  4. 11Piper11

    11Piper11 New Member

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    Thank you for taking time and responding to my thread. I really appreciate the advice.:)
     
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  5. suddenly BANSHEES

    suddenly BANSHEES Senior Member

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    There's more than just a physical appearance that gets a character's personality across. How they speak, how they act, how they approach problems and the world around them, that whole shebang. Unless they're supposed to be some kind of shapeless, omniscient Being, you can still describe the way they move and carry themselves without getting into the specifics of what they look like.

    "I made my way over to the table with long, quick strides." Doesn't betray anything about your character, except that they have legs.

    Disregard that example if they don't have any legs, but you get what I mean. :p
     
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  6. 11Piper11

    11Piper11 New Member

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    You are funny and creative and I enjoy the way that you think. Thank you for the advice. I appreciate it.
     
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  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I would really think about why you are doing this. Three books to get to who a character is seems like a bit much to me. I don't think I would make it to the big reveal and I think it could be somewhat of a let down after having spent so much time with a character only to have them be completely different than I imagined. I don't think this third-book reveal is going Mohave the sort of splash you're looking for. Readers don't really liked to be tricked or feel too left in the dark. If your books are hinged to this secret identity and waiting several books for the truth to present itself, I think you could have more problems than you think. This is just my opinion, but it's something I would never do.
     
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  8. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

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    It'd depend on your setting, but in both past history and the present day, physical attributes do matter and would effect the story in some way. The only ways for it to not come up that I could think of are:
    • Unreliable narrator
    • Character wears a mask, can alter their voice, and is intentionally suppressing thoughts of their past (example: Darth Vader)
    • Virtual Reality (example: H in Ready Player One)
    • Society with strong taboos
    You'll want to write your book to be sellable on its own, outside a series. Be wary of moving critical plot details to later books.
     
  9. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Spitting .45 caliber grammar.... Contributor

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    Is that going to be a bombshell? Like after 3 books the reader is going to be shocked to discover that the character has red hair?
     

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