I was looking trough my pins in a board called “Writing Stuff” and realized I have a lot that I have not read. I just pin it for later and later never comes. I made a goal for myself to read one article every day, and to blog about one article every week. It just so happens that today is Saturday and so this is the day of the week that I will share my Pinterest finds.
This week has to do with character description. I have written a post like this before, about four months ago, but this is a new thing so I may have a few repeats. Of course, I am not going to share all of the pins I read or have on this “Writing Stuff” board. As of now there are 201 pins and…I add stuff just about everyday.
Reading this article I realized how flat my characters are. I see blurry images of them in my head now, when I once before new exactly what they looked like. Of course, as I have stated before, I am going back and writing out a full Character bio of all my characters that play a major role in my novels.
For so long I have relied on hair and eye color and maybe a little but of body build. I do know that one of my characters is about 6’6″ tall with the build of a body builder, long blond hair and bright sea green eyes. Of course, when character A describes this character his arms are as big around as Character A’s waist. You get the point…hopefully.
The thing is, this character is probably the only character that I spent that much time on describing. The kicker is, he isn’t even my main character. Which brings me to the question, how do you describe your main character if you are writing in their POV? Do you make them look into a mirror and describe themselves? Do you drop hints throughout the story?
As mentioned by Jody Hedlund in the article, you have to describe your character up front, because you can’t spring “springing an image on them that might not match the person they’ve already visualized.” Which is something you just don’t want to do. Don’t confuse the reader, they won’t want to continue reading your story.
As a reader I can tell you that I hate getting half way through a book and find out that the image I had of one character is the wrong image. It almost infuriates me, so I ignore what the writer said and keep my own image. I don’t want to make my readers mad so I will make sure I find a productive way to give them a little insight about the main character before they make their own image.
Of course, is it really so bad to let the reading decide for themselves what a character looks like? Or is that too much like those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that we used to read as kids?