Anyone else have trouble with character description?

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TonyTheTiger
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26 Jan 2010, 9:47 pm

I've been in the process of writing a sci-fi/fantasy novel, and I'm fairly certain that the weakest part of my writing is the physical description of the characters. To be specific, I don't have much of a knack for envisioning or describing character details in unique, interesting ways, and my eye for wardrobe is practically nonexistent. I can see locations, items, landscapes, and such with my mind's eye, but I can't seem to picture most of my characters. I suspect this may be an AS-related issue, and was wondering if any other writers on here have similar problems. Has anyone run into this, or better yet, does anyone have any suggestions to improve that aspect of my writing?



Last edited by TonyTheTiger on 26 Jan 2010, 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Aimless
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26 Jan 2010, 10:02 pm

Personally, I dislike it when an author describes a character physically.


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TonyTheTiger
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26 Jan 2010, 10:06 pm

Aimless wrote:
Personally, I dislike it when an author describes a character physically.


I don't like it if it's overdone, but I feel it's a tool I need to have if the situation comes up where I do need to describe them. In any case, my problem isn't so much in the description, it's in actually visualizing what they look like in my head.



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26 Jan 2010, 10:07 pm

I generally don't describe characters physically unless something physical about them will have some effect on future events. Like if there's a gag about someone's moustache, I'll mention the character's moustache earlier, or if someone's wearing a uniform or if some other item of clothing says something about the character, I'll throw in a brief mention. Not in a way that disrupts the prose, but sneaking it into an action description or something. Or if a character has low self esteem about some physical feature, I might use that, et.c.. But I wouldn't disrupt the flow just to cram a visual into the reader's mind. It's good to let the readers do some of the imagining on their own.


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26 Jan 2010, 10:10 pm

Since a writer draws from experience, maybe there are people you know who embody some of the qualities of your characters and you could draw from that. I agree with you about the overdone part, particularly when everyone is goodlooking.


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Magnus
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26 Jan 2010, 11:20 pm

Describe their character through action.


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27 Jan 2010, 11:17 am

I usually go with at least eye color, sometimes hair color, etc., it does help you form a mental image of them.
Doesn't have to be lengthy, a couple of sentences should do it.


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David1981
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28 Jan 2010, 4:38 am

I have a problem with visualising the description of a character. I just cannot form an image of them in my head.

I also have a problem with describing people. If you asked me to describe the physical appearance of someone I know, I would be flummoxed. I am also horrible at trying to guesstimate someones weight and/or height or their clothing.

In other words, there seems to be a 'wall' between the visual and language sections of my brain whereas it is extremely difficult to visualise words spoken to me and to describe images/objects that I see.