What they look like

Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ashley Bird, Feb 16, 2018.

  1. awkwarddragon

    awkwarddragon Member

    Mar 18, 2018
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    In regards to short fiction, I would prefer if the author described the characters, but minimally. Just give me a general description, maybe add a unique physical trait, and go on from there - the reader's imagination can go a long way. Same goes for novels or other forms of fiction. My two cents.
  2. Razortooth

    Razortooth Member

    May 11, 2017
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    I think as many have said if there is a short description of the character that's great, anything more substantial I would think instinctively that it will be pertinent later on to the story. If the characteristics will be relied on later, the way the character appears will give an impression to another character or their physical attributes will make their actions more believable later on in the story. If you know that a character is physically built you know that them crashing through a door will have less impact on them than a 120lb person. I often don't dismiss longer descriptions as I know that someone has thought that it is important that the reader acknowledges these characteristics.
  3. T.Trian

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

    Mar 12, 2013
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    Mushroom Land
    As a reader, I like descriptions of characters because I enjoy getting a glimpse of how the author sees their character vs. the image I have formed in my head. If I haven't formed one yet, the description will aid in that. Not a fan of purple prose, though.
    I think William Dale Jennings had an incredible knack for describing his characters. He didn't just describe how they looked but how the characters moved, giving strong hints of their personality via e.g. how they walked, sat etc. It's been a while, but I remember also enjoying how Huxley described his cast in the Gioconda Smile.

    As a writer, I love describing my characters in detail but I always fear I'll veer too close to literary masturbation so I tend to err on the side of caution. Consequently the end result is often fairly reserved but since most of what I write are longer stories, I usually end up inserting enough details eventually, starting from the most crucial/striking elements and working my way to the more mundane/irrelevant as the story goes on. I do believe even the less relevant details should serve at least some purpose.
  4. Cephus

    Cephus Active Member

    Jan 3, 2014
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    If it matters to the story, include it. If it's something another character in the story would notice, include it. Don't just put in description for the sake of description, it gets boring.
    izzybot likes this.
  5. raine_d

    raine_d Active Member

    May 30, 2011
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    Depends on the character, too - if they are interesting (or odd) looking, the POV character will probably notice and the description can be fun to write and read. If they're just a standard pretty blue-eyed blonde... umm. Someone might notice the blonde, but more description than that is hard to make worth the words .

    Fortunately, practice in noticing people when you are out and working up vivid descriptions for practice costs nothing and is lots of fun as long as most of them don't get to read how you see them... I've been amusing myself and quietly slandering the public at large for years now.

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