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Saturday, July 31, 2010

When Describing a Character it’s Best to Leave a lot to the Reader’s Imagination

Relationship experts are always stating how men find it more attractive when a woman does not show everything.  That they find it more appealing when women wear something like a low cut blouse paired with a long skirt.  It peaks their interest because it leaves them something to fantasize about.  Instead of them seeing the legs as they really are the guys instead get to drum up an ideal image of those hidden limbs.  Okay, so what is my point?  That the same idea applies when describing a fictional character.  No matter how detailed a description you give the image among readers will vary and none of them will come close to that picture you have in your head. 
Take for instance this photo of JaeLynn and I:
  Wrong
The wall was pink.  A brown and pink, art deco like flower print hung on the wall behind the African- American mother and daughter.  Beside the art on the wall there was a rack with seven shelves that contained numerous bottles of nail polish in shades of blue, green, pink, purple, yellow, orange and white.  Are you ready to skip to the end of this description yet?  The three-year-old black girl sat at a white table in a blue chair.  On the table sat a large bottle with a green label.  The girl's hair was done up in a ponytail that hung over to one side.  She was wearing a multicolored striped, orange jumper.  Her nails were painted pink.  Okay, enough already.  Now the correct way.
  Right 
The coffee colored skin of the mother and daughter glowed against a backdrop of pink.  I focused my gaze on their smiles which seemed to be genuine.  A normal looking family doing ordinary things, like visiting a nail salon.  I absently ran my fingers through my dark, long hair.  Hair that looked very much like the young mother's.  I described the characters while being mindful of the whole story.

Now you go give it a try.  Use the picture above or seek out one that better fits the type of character(s) you wish to create.  
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