1. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Testing our powers of character description...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by BayView, Aug 1, 2018.

    Okay. Three actresses, below. I've chosen recognizable faces but made them all white and with similar colouring so we don't just go for the colour cues. If you're up for the challenge - write three different descriptions, one for each actress, without including the name of whom you're describing. See if your colleagues can identify the actress based only on your description.

    No cheating (like, don't describe Sigourney Weaver based on "looking like she could kick some exomorph ass!"). And don't describe them in contrast to the others (like, not "the youngest-looking one"). And don't describe them in the same order as they appear in this post... or DO, just to trick us!
    ETA: And try to describe them as if they were characters in books, and therefore moving - don't say that Amy Adams is looking over her shoulder... tell us what she looks like in general, not in this specific picture.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm going to pretend that I have no idea who these actors are, their histories, nothing. They are just faces in my response, not the people we actually know from film and interviews.


    Hers was a fragile smile, the result of a heart mended more times than she could count. She wanted you to see her as cheery, as confident, even pretty, though these hopes were hung on a scaffolding of doubt.

    Never a cheerleaders, never the homecoming queen. Just pretty enough to know she would never make the cut for either. Instead she reigned over the smart kids, the mathletes, the computer and AV club. There she was untouchable. At the twenty year reunion when the genuine royalty of high school were bemoaning their divorces, drooping boobs, and lying through their teeth about stellar children (many of whom were on probation, the legal kind, not the academic), she rolled in at the acme of her beauty, the elder queens in decline, having no poker face for the scandal she was about wreak on soon-to-be divorced husbands.

    Vassar in human form. She would have gone to Harvard - she had the grades, the connections, the name - but the idea bored her to tears. Harvard types were cookie-cutter assembly line children shoved into the McDonalds of ivy league schools and she wasn't about to be cookie-cutter and fuck McDonalds.
     
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  3. wrabel

    wrabel Member

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    (I avoided clothing and earrings too)


    She had fair skin and short brown hair with caramel highlights. She had curled it, but the top remained straight. It hung just below her chin, which stretched as she smiled; it was a sneering, half-open smile. Her eyebrows were penciled in softly, without much arch. Crows’ feet teased the edges of her eyes, and short, straight creases ran her forehead horizontally. A large nose was set between her blue eyes.

    She had carefully styled ginger hair that waved precisely as it was supposed to. She could have walked out of a 1920’s hair commercial. Her bright red lips curved to a smile, just a hint of a dimple on the right side, and her blue eyes were framed with heavy mascara. Her brows were arched, giving her a self-assured look.

    Dark hooded eyes sat amongst wrinkles on her face, mascara calling attention to them. Her face showed all the signs of a life of happiness in wrinkles. She had a round bob of straight hair that came in at her jawline, and side swept bangs hanging just short of her eye and styled. Her lips were closed in a small smile and her neck was held straight.


    (I know I'm not very good sorry)
     
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  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Damn! You guys write real pretty!

    @Wreybies, I'm guessing you did them in the order the photos appear... Cusack, Weaver, Adams.

    @wrabel... I'm guessing Cusack, Adams, Weaver?

    I should have included five pictures and had people only describe three characters, or something, but still... assuming I got it right, I think you both did a good job!
     
  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Cusack, Adams, and Weaver is last. ;) Sigourney, to me, has that look of New England breeding, tall, somehow related to the Bouviers, etc. Adams seems to me like the woman who peaked well after high school, nondescript during, quietly smart and sharp as a tack.
     
  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think I allowed my personal preferences to come into it... I adore Weaver, and I adore the character you described in your second bit, so... they must be the same!
     
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  7. wrabel

    wrabel Member

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    "@wrabel... I'm guessing Cusack, Adams, Weaver?

    I should have included five pictures and had people only describe three characters, or something, but still... assuming I got it right, I think you both did a good job!"

    You're right! (I think I'm going to try again... if that's okay? I'm kind of alternating between two styles at the moment in my writing and would like to try the descriptions both ways)
     
  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Carry on!
     
  9. wrabel

    wrabel Member

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    (second go... different order [or is it?])

    She was confident, a bright red smirk calling attention to her eyes, her hair. She could have walked out of a 1920’s catalog or gone hand in hand with Jay Gatsby to a party at the Plaza hotel. She met millionaires on business, checking for their wife and locking the door to the bedroom behind her.

    Her features were stretched, but they were happy. Sweat shone discretely on her forehead, her lips and eyes shone, and her hair, although curled, had a messy look. She believed that laughter was healthy, and hugs too; she would rather laugh with you than at you.

    Her smile was practiced: she wore it so often that it had faded from a grin to a small flat smile that left her eyes open but crinkled up crows’ feet in their corners. She was styled and still, the type of person who wore dresses and high heels and never sneakers or rainboots, even on rainy days
     
  10. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Definitely Adams, Cusack, Weaver. Right?
     
  11. wrabel

    wrabel Member

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    Yup! :)
     
  12. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    More pictures! More! :-D
     
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  13. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Why would anyone ever not want to use this line?
     
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  14. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Yay!

    We'll try for the men this time... and we'll do THREE descriptions, but FIVE pictures, so we can't just rely on process of elimination to get the right answers...

    [​IMG]
    Reynolds
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    Gosling
    [​IMG]
    L. Hemsworth
    [​IMG]
    Damon
    [​IMG]
    Brolin
     
  15. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I wonder if non-celebrities would be better? I'm having trouble divorcing the faces from the personas, myself...
     
  16. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Round two....

    • I'd caught him on the downslope of attractiveness. The materials were still there, but the mortar had started to slip. That was fine by me. I like a house with some character, some sense that it had been lived in. His mild paunch was like a comfortable sofa. I imagined curling up under an old beloved blanket to watch The African Queen with him. He seemed like the kind of guy who would appreciate Bogey and Hepburn. Those eyes were so vulnerable. He looked like someone's husband, so no one was talking to him, but I didn't see a ring, and I'm not shy, so I poured scotch into two highballs and brought them over.
    • I hadn't been at the party for a hot minute before I felt the gravitational anomaly pull me toward the kitchen. There was no need for a phased array sensor sweep to tell me what was causing it. Red cup in hand, assortment of onlookers hanging on his every word. He was cute, no doubt, but that's not where his pull came from. It was that quick delivery, that dry retort, that razor sharp engagement of any material one offered, whether you knew you'd offered it or not. I slid up to Kelly - the only one I knew in the group - just to have a reason to bask in that glow. He gave me a saucy wink, the kind that says I see you seeing me. I suck at hiding that kind of thing. He wasn't offended. He was accustomed to it. Attention was attention, guys, girls, didn't really matter, so long as the audience was in attendance he would play along. I'd met guys like him before, and sweet as they are, they'll whiplash a little gay heart thinking they're being cool.
    • There comes a point in any gay man's life where the legal age of consent becomes a meaningless line. That's a concern for young people, or maybe people rich enough to play with people that young. Regardless, as beautiful as he was, with those piercing eyes, his beauty was academic, like a Ming vase (pronounce it like it's expensive) or a Monet. It's beautiful, it is, I can see it, but there's no point wanting to touch it. It's just for looking. I took my drink and left the room. He could be my son. No point in torturing myself.
     
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  17. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Ooh, these are juicy! I like that you've included more of yourself in these descriptions - the other three were really focused on the women, but I feel like I'm getting a picture of these guys and of you (or your narrative persona, at least) with these ones.

    My guesses... Josh Brolin for the first, although I do not think that man has a damn paunch! Maybe Matt Damon, but... nah. Josh Brolin would like Bogey and Hepburn. The second - one of the Ryans, for sure... you're giving hardly any physical description (which I think is significant, in terms of the overall exercise - I'm making my own picture of these characters, based on the personality cues you're giving me), but I'm going to guess Reynolds? For the third, I assume young Hemsworth. Poor ol' @Wreybies!
     
  18. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    Amazing! It's interesting how adding in your own POV's perspective makes these characters come alive. You only fleetingly spoke about the characters characteristics. The piece was more about your perception of these characters. Also, your interaction with objects and actions also helped as well.
     
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  19. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Damon, Reynolds, and of course, Hemsworth. The last one was pretty obvious, I think. :-D
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Damn, I was wrong on Damon. You're right about the paunch, though. He's more likely to have one than Brolin.
     
  21. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's how my descriptions tend to be in my stories. I want to give the reader an impression of what the observing character is taking in, and no one takes in check-list, tip to toe, "Player 1, Create Your Character", impressions. That's not how people really are.

    When I first met my husband, one part of my mind took in the fact that here, finally, was the little muscle bear of my dreams, shorter than me (perfect), which is not an easy find when you're only 5'6" yourself. But what I really saw was his smile, which I later learned was his little-boy-opening-Christmas-presents smile. William typically has a well-practiced smile that he deploys, the one he thinks flatters him, his "selfie smile", but the smile he had on that first date was not under his control. It was an eager, happy, overcome smile. And on that first date, that's all he was to me, that smile. He wasn't tightly curled dark hair or brown eyes or whatever clothing he was wearing. He was that smile, which later told a story about him that I could recognize in hindsight.
     
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  22. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Living in my own little world Contributor

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    All right, I'll give it a go:

    1. Though a little past his prime, he had a strong face, a manly face. The crows feet and slight wrinkles only emphasized that here was a man with experience-- a man you could trust. His brown hair, shot though with silver like his beard- was artfully tousled, and his hazel eyes seemed to know you from the start.

    2. He had a long face, a face that on any other might be called 'horsey', but on him, it worked. His eyes were like hot chocolate- warm and brown and inviting. A hint of stubble covered his jaw, and he flashed me a roguish grin, a grin that promised snarky humor and self-deprecating jokes.

    3. The first thing that caught my eye was his smile- not too big, but conveying friendliness and humor. His nose was a bit flattened at the tip, as if he'd run into a wall, but his blue eyes quickly stole my attention. He wore his blonde hair in one of those casual, yet debonair styles.
     
  23. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Brolin, Hemsworth, Damon?
     
  24. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Living in my own little world Contributor

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    Brolin, Reynolds, Gosling, actually. Hmm. Maybe I need more practice.
     
  25. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Oh, no, that's my fault! I scrolled up and saw the bottom three so I just chose from them... I forgot I'd given extra options.
     
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