Seeing the World through Your Character’s Eyes

How you describe a room should depend on your POV character.

While I was writing yesterday’s post on setting, something crossed my mind. I have no clue whatsoever what color my character’s room is in Airstream. I know that is in her room. I know how she’s personalized it. But color? I have no idea.

In a way, this is good news. Color is really important to me – I knit, crochet, weave and bead. Although I wear a lot of black and grey, I love color!

But my character isn’t me. She doesn’t do hand work. In fact, she’s all about function, i.e. how things work. In reality, I’m also a functionalist but I’m a functionalist who likes pops of color. My character? I’m not sure color is even on her radar.

Airstream is a science fiction story that starts on a space ship. I suspect the whole ship interior is the same color – most likely a neutral. This would drive me mad. My character? If she cared, I would already know about it.

When you describe your setting, describe it in terms of what your character would notice. If you aren’t sure how it would vary from character to character, think about how different people react to the same place.

My son hates artificial scents. He gets that from me. But where I will quietly dislike them while my nose stops up, he lets you know about it. “What is that stench?”

My mother-in-law loves dark interiors. The paint doesn’t have to be dark but she loves heavy drapes and wide slat blinds. Ornate sofas and arm chairs with dark fabrics are a plus. Infuser reeds and floral scents abound.

My husband wants sunshine. Lots and lots of sunshine. Natural wood is good. Painted wood? There’s a circle in hell reserved for people who paint wood as far as my husband is concerned.

Now imagine that each of these people is in the same room. Each of them is likely to describe it every differently. How you describe the setting in your own story will depend on who your character is and how this character views the world.

–SueBE