Saturday, January 24, 2015

'How to Describe People When Writing a Book' with the Mormon YSA Writer's Support Group

"How do you include physical descriptions of your characters, especially the main ones, in a natural way? It seems forced to just like a bunch of stats: height, skin color, eye color..." - Ahsoka

One way that I can think of describing characters without a bunch of adjective sentences is description by adverb sentences.

For example, instead of writing 'He has blue eyes', you can write 'The austere circumstance was relaxed and easily accepted by his azure pigmented glances.'

A writer can describe a scene of the person, rather than describe the person directly. You can also describe a person by dialogue. People love talking about themselves, and it is natural.

Natalie New:

What I've learned is that you add descriptions of your characters over time. Throughout the plot, drop things like, "His blue eyes brightened at her response," or "She pushed her wavy dark hair behind her ear." Don't drop everything on the reader all at once. Readers like to skim through the majority of books once they understand the plot line, and taking a whole paragraph to describe a character can be exhausting for the reader.

"Thanks for the info! That's what I've done so far - - sprinkling in details a bit at a time since I didn't know what else to do. Glad to know that technique is a viable one! Do you think it's it's important to have the details included early on, though? I'm kind of worried that I've waited too long to describe my characters, and that readers might already have their own picture of what the characters look like, so won't be happy if what I describe doesn't mesh with that." - Ahsoka

I feel bad since I'm the only one responding to this. Everyone is welcome to comment!
Ahsoka- Include descriptions of your characters consistently. In my current novel I only have 20 pages typed up out of the 400+ I've handwritten. In those 20 pages I have adequately described my characters in their more basic form. Your initial characters should be described a little bit when you first introduce them, and them maybe add more descriptions of them three pages later, or something along that line. And it's important to have your reader grow with the characters; that's what makes them so likable! Say you've already introduced your character; show your readers 35 pages later how this character is resourceful and observant in any given circumstance, or whatever their personality traits are!
I hope this is making sense.

Consistency makes sense to keep the imagination vivid and developing.

Bonus material:

Do you think that introducing many characters in the first chapter of a novel when they will not remain in the story for long will confuse the reader? Only one main character is planned to remain from the beginning chapters.
If I was the reader, I would have a hard time keeping track of a lot of different characters early on. Introducing so many people may also take the focus away from the main character who will continue on to the next chapter.
It will depend on the style of the writer. But i feel there is nothing wrong with it... :)
Sam Orr
it depends. one of the things i like about Brandon Sanderson is each character seems real and is very distinct. As a result I never have a hard time remembering who's who and what they're up to. each character serves to help flesh out the world, and give me a better sense of what the setting is like, even when those characters only last as long as a few paragraphs.
I think it can really add to the story, and give a certain richness to it; the fact that even minor characters are noteworthy, and that you don't just focus on a few main characters to the utter neglect of others. My main concern would just be that you find ways to actually make them matter to your readers, and that they have to fit in naturally, and not feel like you're just forcing them in for no reason, like you're just dumping a bunch of random people in one room. :D And keep in mind, sometimes certain characters keep speaking to you, and some of the characters you introduce now may end up finding their way back into the story. (-:

1 comment: