So this week, I've been thinking a lot about descriptions. What to include, what not to include - especially when it comes to people. For me, it basically came down to a few elements.
It truly does depend on where and when the character is introduced. Try to keep the context in mind. If it's storming outside, don't describe hair as a carefully made up. If it's a fantasy setting, you shouldn't describe a supporting character as if it's a western. If you're meeting a duchess, don't necessarily describe the same details as if you're meeting an assassin. Jewels and gems on the duchess's necklace may describe a million things about her, but for the assassin you may want to describe her eyes, or her way of moving.
2. Distinguishing Factors
If your character has brown eyes, yes, that may be important for the reader to know at some point. However, it won't make a reader remember him. If your character is a chimney sweep and has coal on his nose and later you reintroduce him, the reader is more likely to remember, "Oh, this is the child with the dirty face!"
I know, we hate using more words than we have to. Sometimes, however, re-including a couple details cements your MC's face in the reader's mind. Not like you say the color of her hair fifteen times in two paragraphs, but a couple of chapters later, nonchalantly toss her hair color back into the prose. Think of how many times JK Rowling refers to Harry's messy hair, Ron's flaming red hair, Hermione's bushy hair, Draco's narrow eyes, Dumbledore's beard.
So, those are some things to keep in mind while describing. What do you like to keep in mind during descriptions?
I wanted to try an experiment. Want to try it with me? (Pretty please?) It doesn't require much!
Next week I want to try dressing up as a character in different genres. Not a certain character - I only have so many resources - but one day dress up as sci-fi, another mystery, another western, etc, etc. Again, I'm a college student with limited finances, so I can't go completely out on this, but I can try. :)
SO, here's how you help!
Leave me a comment suggesting a certain genre you'd think it be interesting to dress up in. Go wild - if I can't do it, that's okay, but don't let that stop you from leaving interesting genres. :)
(this is gonna be fun!)