One Writer’s Journey

April 14, 2016

Describing Your Characters

Eye, Green Eye, Close Up, Macro, Girl, Young, GreenDetails make your writing come alive.  We’ll all heard that bit of advice and the really are words of wisdom.  The problem comes when you don’t know what types of details to include although truthfully I notice the problem more often in adult fiction than children’s fiction.

Part of the problem is that we, as a culture, are totally hung up on physical beauty.  Every now and again I come across a novel in which all of the characters are moviestar gorgeous.  Absolutely everyone is model perfect with flawless skin, a physique to die for an sparking green eyes.  Honestly, I have never been any place on earth where 90% of the population has green eyes.

If anyone at all is unattractive, you immediately know that this person is a villain.  They might be a small, oily, smarmy villain or a great big terrifying ogre-like villain but they are bad, badder, the worst.

Ugh.  Just ugh.  Do.  Not.  Do. This.

But the other problem comes when the writer tries to give details into the various props that appear in the story.  No one drives a car.  They drive a BMW or a Lexus.  Shoes are never heels or sandals. They are Manolo or Louboutin.  (And, yes, I had to look up the names of designer shoes.)  Watches, clothes and more all come complete with their high priced names.  If it was a movie, you’d say it was brand placement.

Again — Do.  Not.  Do. This.

Instead, give details that are vital to the story.  Sometimes this will mean describing a character’s coloring because it makes it hard for her to blend in.  Or her short, no-nonsense hair cut gives us insight into her personality.  Or his size meant that he was turned down to become a pilot because he was too short or too tall.

The long and the short of it is, that even in descriptions, every word has to be there for a reason.  Make every word count.




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